Daily News Archive
From October 13, 2005                                                                                                           

PIRG Releases Report on Toxic Chemicals in Baby Products
(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2005)
Today U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), along with 20 state PIRG organizations, released “The Right Start: The Need to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals in Baby Products”. The 33-page report looks at two toxins in particular: Toxic flame retardants (or PBDEs) and phthalates. The findings are unsettling, showing that a significant number of the baby products tested proved positive for toxic chemicals.

PBDEs are a set of chemicals used to slow the spread of fire. Concern has been raised lately, as the amount of PBDEs found in the breast milk of a number of American women and in some fetuses reaches levels shown to impair learning and cause behavior problems in lab mice. Phthalates also pose a potentially hazardous threat; they have been linked to premature birth, reproductive defects, and early onset puberty. Phthalates are used in both plastic toys to improve flexibility, and also in personal care products to bind fragrance.

The study reports that three of seven sleep aids tested for PBDEs proved positive. The PDBEs were found in the foam material of the products. The three products that tested positive are: the First Years’ Air Flow Sleep Positioner, the Leachco Sleep ‘n Secure 3-in-1 Infant Sleep Positioner, and the PeeWees Disposable Crib Mattress Pads.

As for phthalates, the report states that 15 of the 18 baby products that were tested proved positive for phthalates. The products included bath books, teethers, and bath toys, among other things.

The report not only exposes a clear and dangerous link between toxic chemicals and baby products, but also goes on to make suggestions about what consumers and the government can do.

Some tips for parents including:

  • Avoid using PVC and polycarbonate plastics (plastics marked #3 and #7 in the recycling symbol).
  • Avoid foods wrapped in plastic and canned foods; buy food stored in glass instead.
  • Choose toys made from wood, not plastic.
  • Buy ceramic, metal, or enamel plates and feeding utensils.
  • Choose natural materials, like cotton and wool, for mattresses and linens.

The report also asks for some responsibility to be taken by both the government and the manufacturers. It calls for the government to begin phasing out toxic chemicals, particularly from children’s product. The report then recommends that chemical manufactures provide the EPA with information about the health impacts and hazards of all chemicals put on the market so that it can be determined whether or not they are safe. Finally, the report advocates that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) label all products with the names of the chemicals they contain so that consumers can make more informed decisions and choose safer alternatives.

TAKE ACTION: Use the factsheet published by PIRG to learn what you can do as a parent/consumer. Write to your congress person and encourage them to push for more stringent policies to regulate toxic chemicals.