Previous studies have shown that car seats can have flame retardants that contain chlorine or bromine, which are known to have health and environmental consequences. As a replacement, phosphorus-based flame retardants are now more prevalent, but there is little information about whether those also might be harmful. Of the 22 car seats tested from the US market for this study, exactly half contained phosphorus-based flame retardants.
According to the study, phosphorus-based flame retardants made without halogens have increased in usage as concerns about halogenated flame retardants have grown. Their use in everyday products has led to their widespread presence in the earth’s fresh water, despite that their toxicity profiles are mostly unknown, according to the study.
The study highlighted that the presence of these chemical flame retardants may affect lower-priced car seats more. The addition of the flame retardants is a less-expensive way of meeting the flammability requirements than using specialized fabrics that can do so more naturally. Car seat companies have difficulty producing child car seats under $100 without added flame retardants, according to the study.
There are ongoing questions as to whether or not the flame retardants are necessary for a vehicle interior and consequently child seats. Consumer Reports supports the reduction of chemical flame retardants in other consumer products. Perhaps more important, we support work for finding new methods for limiting fire with physical barriers and materials.