Watchdog Group Flags Potential Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Some Child Car Seats


8 February 2021, Quezon City. A watchdog group on toxic chemicals has called on the lead agencies in charge of enforcing Republic Act 11229, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, to assure the public that the required children’s car seats do not pose chemical hazards to their highly vulnerable users.
While in full support of the government’s effort to reduce the risk of injury and death among infants and children in case of a car accident, the EcoWaste Coalition has expressed concern over the possibility that undisclosed hazardous chemicals may be lurking in some car seat materials.
“Some car seats intended to keep young passengers safe while driving may contain toxic chemical additives that they can inhale, ingest or absorb through the skin,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“To avoid early childhood exposure to these toxins, we ask the authorities to ensure that chemicals used in the manufacturing of children’s car seats have undergone toxicological assessment and are proven safe for human health and the environment,” he said. “Manufacturers, respecting the consumers‘ right to know, should truthfully disclose the chemical content of their products through labeling and website information.”
The deferred implementation of R.A. 11229, as agreed by the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Office, provides an opportunity for concerned agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry, to look into the chemical makeup of children’s car seats being sold in the market, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The group specifically urged the authorities to conduct laboratory analysis of new and pre-loved children’s car seats that are sold offline and online to determine if they contain toxic flame retardants and per- and poly- fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), and to use the test results to strengthen product safety standards and regulations.
The group drew attention to the 2018 report “Hidden Hazards” by the US-based Ecology Center indicating the presence in some children’s car seats of toxic flame retardant chemicals, as well as stain-resistant fluorinated chemicals that are most likely PFAS. The non-profit environmental organization with office in Michigan has been analyzing chemicals of concern in car seats for more than 10 years.
According to the said report, “toxic flame retardant chemicals used in children’s car seats can harm major systems in the body, including the hormone, developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems.” As most of these chemicals are not strongly bound to the fabric or foam of the car seat, they can easily migrate out and become airborne via dust, the report said.
Exposures to toxic flame retardant chemicals can result in negative health effects such as reduced IQ, delayed development, autism, endocrine disruption, obesity, reproductive harm and cancer.
The same report said that “when PFAS enter the human body, the chemicals build up in the liver and the kidneys and may contribute to elevated cholesterol, immune problems, thyroid disease, kidney cancer and testicular cancer.” Such chemicals used in fabric treatments can enter the body through the skin and inhalation.
“While infant and child exposure to PFAS from car seat use is the most apparent concern, the manufacture and disposal -- landfilling or incineration -- of the chemicals are highly problematic (as) the entire lifecycle of PFAS releases chemicals of concern into our water and air,” the report pointed out.