Best and Worst Child Car Safety Seats Named by Healthy Stuff Organization

Family Travel on 08.03.11
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Somehow, when it comes to buying equipment intended to keep children safe, it seems ridiculous that a parent has to worry about the hazards of toxic chemicals. But the types of chemicals used in car safety seats do merit concern. Thank goodness for organizations like Healthy Stuff, that test for chemicals and publish the results -- both to guide parents in their purchases and to give companies incentives to get the toxins out of their products.

The bad news in 2011: over half of child car seats still have detected elements suggesting the use of chemicals with known or suspected deleterious health effects. The good news: since Healthy Stuff started testing child seats in 2008, the average rankings have improved by 64%. Healthy Stuff has entered a partnership with The Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety to pressure the "largest car seat retailers, Graco and Evenflo, to take leadership to disclose and phase out hazardous chemical flame retardant additives".

If you are in the market for a child safety seat, know before you go. According to Healthy Stuff:

Most Toxic 2011 Car Seats:

  • Infant Seat: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black & Graco SnugRide 30 in Asprey
  • Convertible Seat: Britax Marathon 70 in Jet Set & Britax Marathon in Platinum
  • Booster Seat: Recaro Pro Booster in Blue Opal & Recaro ProSPORT Toddler in Mist

Least Toxic 2011 Car Seats:

  • Infant Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay & Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche
  • Convertible Carseat: Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, Safety 1st OnSide Air in Clearwater, and Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe
  • Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders

Healthy Stuff tests for bromine to indicate the presence of brominated flame retardants (but their tests will not indicate some other flame retardants, such as TPP, also suspected of effects that might harm a child's development). They also check chlorine (indicative of PVC), lead (a bioaccumulating neurotoxin) and other heavy metals (antimony, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, nickel and tin).  Check out the complete ratings on the Healthy Stuff or add your name to the petition for safer products.

It is important to emphasize: car seats save lives, and prevent disabling, lifelong injuries. The risk of an accident without a safety seat is far worse than the risk of chemicals in the seat to your child's health. 

Photo: HealthyStuff.org/Press Photo

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