Toxic Chemicals Found in Child Car Seats

More than half of the 2011 models of popular car seats contain toxic flame retardants and chemical additives, a study conducted by the non-profit Ecology Center and released on has found.  The study examined more than 150 examples of car seats purchased at a retail store in Michigan.  Around 60 percent of the seats tested positive for brominated flame retardant chemicals, PVC, arsenic, mercury, and other heavy metals. says those chemicals have either not been sufficiently tested, or are associated with health issues including reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone imbalances, and cancer.

Similar studies had been performed in 2008 and 2009, and though the new findings sound alarming, they are actually improvements–an average of 64 percent less chemical toxicity–over the past 3 years.

“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,” Jeff Gearheart, research director for, told

For a list of the models that were labeled “best” and “worst” by the study, click here.

(image via:

*UPDATED:  The image that was originally published in this post has been replaced after several PNN readers correctly pointed out that it depicted a young baby riding in a forward-facing car seat, which is not recommended.

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  1. by carseat mama

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    WOW! BIG fail on your part parents magazine. This baby is way to little to be forward facing. The reccomendation is 2 years and 30lbs… this is not good!

  2. by Nicole

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Boo to ‘Parents’ for publishing an article with a child under the age of one in a forwarding-facing seat!

  3. by Sephia

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I’m not a car seat nazi like some but even I know that picture has a million things wrong with it!

    I suppose if the toxics don’t kill that baby a car accident surely will!

  4. by Toni

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    NO…a child that is 1 year and 20lbs can be forward facing!!! I contacted my dr and found this out! Plus most children have too long of legs to face backwards until they are 2years old! My daughter is 15months and 17lbs and we had to turn her around because her legs were too long to sit facing backwards anymore. You really think she should suffer until she is 2?? Wow, some people! Children are also not allowed in the front seat until the age of 12, or have carseats placed by the doors because of the danger of accidents. How many people follow all the rules?? My daughter’s seat is in the middle unless we have to lay the seat down, then it has to be moved to one side. Just because they “recommend” it doesn’t mean its the best decision for everyone, right??

  5. by Toni

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Oh, and how do you know that child is under the age of 1?? Are you going by the amount of hair the child has, because that would be a major mistake.

  6. by Erin Bignell

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I am with the pp, I think it is horrible that you are posting an article with a graphic that displays a child in a FF seat that is obviously too young, and the straps are WAY above the baby’s shoulders. I think the graphics you use are just as important as the information in the article. How about setting a good example!

  7. by Kelley

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Wouldn’t you rather your child break a leg than have her neck snapped off?

  8. by Jen

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Ladys: yes that child is under one and thats a “fail” moment for the picture. But while yes the longer the better to keep in rear facing position, it can be forward facing once they hit 12 mths and 20 lbs(or was it 21 lbs). Either way, I kept my daughters back facing over 12 mths-closer to 18 mths. On the point of this artical: wow glad i don’t have the models listed in those fabrics..almost got one!!

  9. by Amy Lynn

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Really? Parents magazine couldn’t pick a better picture for an article about car seats?! Current recommendations are 2 & 30lbs. Get with the times, Parents!! Too many people look forward to you for up-to-date information.

  10. by Cathleen

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    The first poster said the RECOMMENDATION, not the law. The law says 1 and 20 can forward face, but the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and EVERY car seat manufacturer recommended rear-facing as long as possible, until the maximum height and weight of the seat. Every convertible seat on the market today rear-faces 35-45 pounds, enough to keep the majority of children rear-facing until age 3-4. You did not HAVE to turn your daughter around. There is absolutely no danger to her legs touching the back of the seat. In fact, her legs are safer that way, as a leading injury in forward-facing seats is from the legs flying forward and hitting objects in front of them. Think of it this way – if a crash is severe enough to break rear-facing legs, think what it will do to a forward-facing neck. I suggest you search for videos comparing crash tests of rear- and forward-facing children, and see how the seats perform and the movement of the dummy. Also, children actually prefer riding rear-facing and being able to fold their legs in a comfortable position, versus having them dangle straight down. Please do some research on the subject. There is absolutely no argument you can give that will refute the benefits of extended rear-facing.

  11. by Bianca

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Toni – Logically, I think internal decapitation would result in more suffering than having to cross her legs or pull up her knees a bit. 2 years is a guideline based on weight, muscle tone, etc… 9 year olds have been internally decapitated. But hey, if you rely on your doctor to tell you what common sense should, there’s nothing I say that’ll change your mind.

  12. by Sephia

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I have a “tiny” 1yo and that baby pictured is NOT 12 mo old. I’ve raised 8 kids so far and I can tell (hair or no hair) when a baby is not 12mo old. Even my husband agrees that baby is NOT a year old. 9 months TOPS!

    Head is too small, limbs too short!

  13. by T-

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I think it’s one of those carseats where you put the kid in facing forward (because it’s easier) then it spins around to face backwards….

  14. by cricket

    On August 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    actually toni, the new recommendations are to rf children until a minimum of two, or until they outweigh the seat (most seats will rf to at least 30 lbs). children are 75% more likely to be seriously injured or die in a head on collision in a forward facing seat under 2 years of age. look up some you tube videos of crash tests. why risk it? better a broken leg than a broken neck (by the way, there has not a single case of a rf child receiving a broken leg in an accident, no matter their age).

  15. by Mary

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    if you looked closely at the pic, you’d see the child is facing backwards toward the seat, so it’s correct.

  16. by J.

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Why is everyone commentting on a PICTURE? It was probably done in a studio and that may NOT even be a real car seat! Car seat safety is not the topic of this article!… It’s about Toxic Chemicals found in car seats…

  17. by Laura

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    How interesting. The very first thing I noticed when I was this article posted to my newsfeed on Facebook (with, apparently the OLD picture)was what looked like an obviously too-young baby forward facing in the car! Not what the article was about, but the choice of photo Parents magazine chose to use. Really, Parents, you should have done better here.

    And, by the way, just because a pediatrician says that it’s ok to switch a baby forward facing doesn’t mean that it is. Unfortunately, many doctors are not properly trained in up-to-date car seat recommendations.

  18. by Sabrina

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Thank you Mary! I was hoping someone else saw that the child is rearfacing.

  19. by Sephia

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm


    THANK YOU for listening and changing the photograph.

  20. by L

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Why is everyone commenting on the picture??? Because a baby facing the front of the car is UNSAFE. The fact of the matter is that rear facing is safer than forward facing. Unfortunately many parents don’t know about “extended” rear facing. Parents magazine should have used this as a teaching opportunity for those parents, whether the article was about rear facing or about toxic chemicals.

  21. by B

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Mary, it looks like they changed the photo. In the first, the original photo, the child was forward facing and should not have been. You are right. It is correct now.

  22. by nadine

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    i am the only one seeing that the carseat is facing REAR! come on people take a closer look

  23. by nightmarehippiegirl

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    What a bunch of know-it-alls! Wasn’t one mention enough?!

  24. by Anna

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    What are you guys talking about? The seat is rear facing!!! What I want to know is which brand seats are not safe due to the toxins ?

  25. by Emily Sanchez

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Everyone saying this baby is forward facing is re-tar-ded.

  26. by z

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Are we talking about the picture that is associated with this article? The baby pictured is rear facing in an infant car seat. Not sure what you all are talking about?

  27. by z

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Ha ha ha, I just read the little note saying the original picture was replaced! I can only imagine!! Please disregard my previous comment :-)

  28. by Daniela

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    everyone who is saying the baby is forward facing should pay closer attention the the picture he’s obviously facing backwards !!

  29. by ana

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Seriously!! You people are blind or not very smart. That baby is not facing forward!!!

  30. by Linda

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    If you read the updated note, they just changed the photo. The photo before was a child under the age of one forward facing.

  31. by nadine

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    for all you guys who say its facing forward….i just was on facebook and saw the post with the baby facing forward. they did change it

  32. by LoveMybabe

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    90% of child injuries can (could be) be prevented by REAR FACING!!! My baby’s not worth taking a chance! I’m rearfacing until he’s 18!! :)

  33. by Jennifer

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Wow Toni you put your 17lb child fling??? You truly are stupid as its 1 AND 20lbs

  34. by Lisa

    On August 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Ok so the picture has been changed lets move on. I am not sure why that was the huge issue. How about – so are these carseats recalled? If so what is the recall list? They were worse years ago and we didn’t know? We spend lots of money to buy carseats for the safety of our children. Never did it cross my mind that something in the seat might be toxic. This article is poorly written and leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling. I went to the other website it suggested and nothing.

  35. by Rachel

    On August 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    So, how about a FULL list?? I wish this website had all of the results…so I can see where my Graco Alano compares to the rest.

  36. by Amy Lynn

    On August 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm


  37. by Stephanie

    On August 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Is there a way to de-tox your carseat? This article just promotes fear with no recommendations. I hate that.

  38. by vicky

    On August 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I think the car seat is facing the correct way (rear facing). Look at the car door. See how it is openened? Now think of your car and which way the door swings open when you put your child in the back seat. And besides…. this article IS about hazardous chemicals found in car seats.

  39. by Rachel

    On August 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    For anyone who wanted to see the full list of the seats they tested, here is the link. I saw this article on a different site and they linked to this list.

  40. by Ashley

    On August 4, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Toni you are an idiot! You need to learn parent BETTER! The LAW is 1 year AND 20lbs.

    There is SO much resarch out there! You don’t need to turn your child around because their legs are long. Are you kidding me? My son is 15 months. Almost 30lbs and 32 inches and he’s JUST fine rear facing. He has long legs too.

  41. by Ashley

    On August 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Yes! Can we please get reccomendations? It says they are hazardous, btu that’s it! =( Can we return them, exchange them? Please let us know! Most people can’t afford to just buy another one!

  42. by Mona

    On August 4, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Ummm… if everyone looks closer to the picture the child is backwards. the door is opening to the right of the mom so the baby is safely in there. GREAT JOB PARENTS on the article.

  43. by NJ-Dad

    On August 4, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Here is what I would like to understand – is it something that has been sprayed on, which rubs-off on contact? If it is, then I am concerned, but even then, my child does not play/ touch/ gnaw at the clip.

    If it is an integral part of the clip and does not rub off on contact, then how does it effect?

  44. by debbi

    On August 4, 2011 at 6:23 am

    can’t believe how much parents do things so trustingly. i say this because i am thinking about all those parents who leave there kids in car seats for hours. some doctors and health care professionals even recommend children to sleep in them to elevate their heads. i personally hated leaving my kids in them.
    for all those judgemental people concerning the forward facing pic, i don’t know what the law is in your state, but last time i checked here in pa,. Law Summary
    Pennsylvania’s law requires children ages 7 & under to be fastened in a child passenger restraint system or child booster seat.

    Children ages 3 & under must be fastened in a child passenger restraint system.

    Children ages 4 through 7 must be fastened in a safety seat belt system and in a child booster seat (secondary enforcement).
    [secondary enforcement means you can't be pulled over just because of this. you have to be violating a primary law{i.e.speeding,faulty car equipment,...}.]

    as for kids 12 and under riding in the back seat, it’s not a law. it’s recommended, yes,but not the law. personally, if i need my child to ride up front, then that is where my child goes, if there is no reason for them to be in front, of course, they ride in back where it is suppose to be safer. i have two children, that at the ages of 10 and 8,were involved in a car accident. if both had been in the back seat, they wouldn’t be here today. the one that was in the back, was trapped, with potential for fire, but by God’s grace, didn’t happen. so, before you make a judgment based on a picture, review your own circumstances, and know your facts, not opinions.

  45. by kim

    On August 4, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Clearly this child is facing the back of the seat, meaning rear facing. Are you idiots all blind? Get over it. The kid is rear facing. Look closer.

  46. by Heather white

    On August 4, 2011 at 8:32 am

    if you looked closely at the pic, you’d see the child is facing backwards toward the seat, so it’s correct.. And ya everyone is talking about the pic when it is right and not worried about the real reason we came to this site to read about the,chemicals..

  47. by Marci

    On August 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Wow, people who are being rude and calling people ‘stupid’ for saying the baby was forward facing.

    Who is stupid? The end of the article says the picture was updated to NOT have a forward facing infant. ….or, maybe they updated the picture and didn’t have the update line? Hmmmm, you never know, do you, so, maybe you should close your mouth rather than spouting off? I’m glad of the first comments, as they obviously got the picture changed to reflect a correct seating arrangement. (I also hope “Toni” comes back to read comments and maybe thinks some more about keeping baby safe.)

    Now, I’m off to read the affect carseat list that a gracious commenter added in!!!!

  48. by Elizabeth Benton

    On August 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I want to know what am I supposed to do if my carseat is on the list?

  49. by erin

    On August 5, 2011 at 12:02 am

    am i missing something. the kid in this photo is not facing foward look how the door is open and u can see the center divider behind him also the moms head rest on her seat

  50. by casie

    On August 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Erin- I was thinking the same thing!
    THE CARSEAT IS NOT FORWARD FACING- LOOK CLOSER PEOPLE! There is a headrest mounted dvd player BEHIND the baby LOL

  51. by Edwina Howard

    On August 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Wow! I can’t believe the majority of the commentors say that the picture is forward facing when it is clearly rear facing. And actually ranting! People are so self absorbed and centered! All of you who ranted should feel real small minded right now. Parents Magazine is not stupid enough to make a blunder like that. Shame on all of you childish adults trying to reaise kids….

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