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Kids' car seat tests reveal chemicals
August 3rd, 2011
12:34 PM ET

Kids' car seat tests reveal chemicals

More than half of 2011 model children’s car seats contain one or more potentially hazardous chemicals, but the seats fared far better than previous years, healthystuff.org found.

Healthystuff.org, a project of the environmental non-profit The Ecology Center, found “chemicals of concern” in 60% of the more than 150 seats tested, including brominated flame retardants, arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

Even so, the website calculated a 64% improvement between 2008 and this year’s seats.

“There’s been a not-so-quiet consumer revolution around chemical hazards in consumer products. The smart and strategic companies are quickly moving to make healthier products, and I think are going to have competitive advantage doing that,” said Jeff Gearheart, research director for Healthystuff.org.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates: Toxic America

Healthystuff.org picked the chemicals of concern based on studies showing links to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone imbalances and cancer.

Healthystuff.org tested for the presence of the chemicals using an X-ray fluorescence analyzer. The website did not test to see whether any of the chemicals were coming off the product and potentially exposing children.

All Baby Trend and Recaro seats tested contained brominated flame retardants, while more than four in five Britax seats did.  44% of all seats tested contained the chemical, which the Environmental Protection Agency says may cause liver, thyroid and neurodevelopmental toxicity.

Healthystuff.org ranked the best and worst seats based on how much chemicals of concern they contained. The findings have no bearing on how well these seats would do in a car accident.

Best Infant Seats: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay, and Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche.

Best Convertible Car Seats: 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.

Best Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders.

Worst Infant Seats: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black, Graco Snugride 30 in Asprey.

Worst Convertible Seats: Britax Marathon 70 in Jet Set, and Britax Marathon in Platinum.

Worst Booster Seats: Recaro Pro Booster  in Blue Opal, and Recaro ProSPORT Toddler in Misty.

Healthystuff.org listed the Graco Snugride 35 in both the best and worst performers for infant car seats, possibly because of the different fabrics.

CNN contacted Graco, Britax and Recaro, or their public relations companies.  None commented on the testing by late Tuesday.

Brands tested include:  Alpha Sport, Baby Trend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Combi, Compass, Dorel Juvenile Group (Cosco, Eddie Bauer, Maxi-Cosi, Safety First), Evenflo, Fisher Price, Graco, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby, Peg Perego, Recaro, Sunshine Kids, Teutonia, The First Years.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.