Chemical Car Seats

Is your car seat toxic?© Getty Images

All car seats are not created equal. While parents fret over the toxins in plastic toys and teething rings (see "The Battle to Ban Toxic Toys," sidebar, May/June 2007), they now have to consider what chemicals may be lurking in their car seat. The Michigan-based Ecology Center released a study in mid-May that looks at the hazards in more than 60 popular models of infant, convertible and child booster car seats. The car seat study (highlighted at, focuses on the presence of PVC, lead brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and heavy metal allergens which have been associated with health effects in children. Researchers discovered plastics containing phthalates (linked to cancer in lab animals) in the car seats" shades and BFRs (banned for toxicity in the European Union) in the cushions and belt clips. The good news for parents is that the higher-priced car seats are not necessarily the least toxic. According to the study, the best pick for an infant seat is the Graco SnugRide Emerson; the worst is the Combi Centre EX. For convertibles, the best is the Cosco Scenera 5-Point; the worst, the Britax Marathon Platinum. For booster seats, the best is the Evenflo Big Kid No-Back; the worst is the Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat.