We are the Ecology Center, a non-profit environmental organization in Ann Arbor, Michigan that works for a safe and healthy environment. One of our most popular projects is HealthyStuff.org, our in-house lab that tests consumer products for toxic chemicals. Our lab uses a High Definition X-Ray Fluorescence (HD XRF) analyzer, infra-red spectroscopy and third-party labs to analyze products. Since 2007, our HealthyStuff.org lab has tested over 10,000 consumer products receiving national media coverage for studies that have found toxic chemicals in a range of consumer goods including cars, gardening products, jewelry, and mobile phones – but most importantly - children's car seats! However, it's been awhile since our last car seat study (2011 - time for an upgrade, don't you think?) and that's why we need your help - we want to test children's car seats this summer!
Why we want to test car seats this summer:
In 2011, we tested over 150 car seats and found more than half (60%) contained at least one of the following chemicals: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; other heavy metals, and allergens.
Here are our 2011 Best and Worst Picks:
Brominated flame retardants are chemicals that are either deemed toxic or lack adequate health safety data. They were detected in 44% percent of the 2011 car seats tested. Other studies have found that car seats contain hazardous chlorinated and organo-phosphate based flame retardants.
It's 2014 and it's time for a fresh batch of car seats to test. Companies such as Graco,Orbit Baby,Britax andClek have released statements that they are phasing out the use of some of these hazardous chemicals from their car seats. But the only way to find out is to put them to the test, which is what we plan to do this summer with your help!
IMPORTANT REMINDER: CAR SEATS SAVE LIVES. ALWAYS USE CHILD SAFETY SEATS, REGARDLESS OF THE RATINGS AT HealthyStuff.org. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SAFE USE OF CAR SEATS, SEE CAR-SAFETY.ORG OR THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS.
Car seats are necessary to safeguard children in cars, but hazardous chemicals are not necessary to make a quality car seat for children and infants!
The following are chemicals our lab will test for:
Bromine, Chlorine and organo-phosphate based flame retardants: Associated with the use of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs) are added to plastics and foams for fire resistance to comply with auto fire safety standards. Many brominated and chlorinated flame retardants appear to be persistent and bioaccumulative, resulting in food chain contamination, including human milk. Many also lack adequate toxicity information, but the available data raises concerns. Some BFRs have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, and behavioral changes. Although fire retardants in foam are necessary to meet certain fire-safety standards, non-halogenated fire retardants are available, and many have a better safety profile.
Chlorine: Associated with the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is widely used in plastics and is of concern to the environment and public health during all phases of its life cycle. PVC contains chemicals called phthalates, some of which are associated with decreased fertility, pre-term deliveries, and damage to the liver, testes, thyroid, ovaries, kidneys, and blood. There is also evidence that phthalates can pass from mothers to babies through the placenta and breast milk.
Lead: Lead is sometimes used as an additive in plastics. Exposure can result in a number of potential health effects, including brain damage, learning disabilities, and problems with the kidneys, blood, nerves, and reproductive system.
Other: Other chemicals tested as part of HealthyStuff.org include antimony, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, nickel and tin. The substances in this category are allergens, carcinogens, or can cause other adverse health impacts depending on the dose.
Wouldn't you like to know if these chemicals are in the products you buy?
Your donation today will help fund:
- Purchasing of 15 - 20 Car Seats (2014 Models): $5,500 - $6,500
- HD XRF testing and public posting of results: $2,000 - $3,500
- Our HealthyStuff.org Researchers: $2,000-$3,000
Total: $9,000 - $13,000
Other Ways You Can Help
Even if you can’t contribute, it doesn't mean you can’t help:
- Upload a picture of you with a print-out of our thought bubble, and tag one of our social media channels telling us why this campaign is important to you! You might get the chance to be featured as one of our "distinguished donors" based on your creativity!
- Get the word out to your friends on and offline. We want to get as many people involved as we can and help educate people on why knowing what's in everyday products is important to their health and the health of the environment!
- Use any of the great share tools provided on our Indiegogo page. We have some funny memes you can share with family and friends!