Flame retardants detected in baby products

Eighty percent of polyurethane foam samples from 101 common baby products had detectable amounts of “potentially toxic” flame retardants, a team of scientists reported this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

For the Record, 3:33 p.m. July 14: An earlier version of this post included a photo that showed, among other items for children, dolls and blankets manufactured by Blabla Kids. The Los Angeles Times has no knowledge of these products being among the ones tested for flame retardants. Blabla Kids products have passed required safety assessments for the U.S. and European markets.

The products included car seats, bassinet mattresses, nursing pillows, high chairs and strollers.

The researchers, led by Heather M. Stapleton of Duke University, detected eight different flame retardants in the foam samples they tested, which had been sent in by volunteers. They even detected traces of the chemical PentaBDE -- which was phased out in 2004 because of fears about its toxicity.

Environmental health advocates have worried about the effects of flame retardants in baby products for some time. This paper’s authors said that they believed this was the first study to report on flame retardants in baby products, and noted that further investigation would be needed to determine what exposure risk the chemicals posed for infants, and what the resulting negative health effects might be.



In 2009, Friends of the Earth’s Russell Long wrote an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times calling on the California Legislature to end requirements that flame retardants be used on baby products (a bill seeking to do so has yet to pass.)

Last holiday season, Times contributor Amanda Leigh Mascarelli offered this guide to buying safe toys for kids, including information on avoiding products containing brominated flame retardants.

And in January 2010, L.A. Times reporter Shari Roan wrote about a study that found that PBDEs may reduce fertility in women.