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Today Healthy Child Healthy World and the Ecology Center applaud Graco Children's Products, Inc. for committing to ban the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. Graco is one of the nation's largest children's product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby gear products purchased in the U.S.
Over the last few months, nearly 4,000 parents signed a petition started by Sara Snow, green lifestyle expert, author of "Sara Snow's Fresh Living" and Healthy Child Healthy World Parent Ambassador, asking Graco to eliminate its use of hazardous flame retardants in their children’s products.
"I started the petition because as a mom, it blew my mind to learn that toxic flame retardant chemicals were still in the foam of so many of the products where babies spend the bulk of their time: strollers, car seats, nursing pillows, and more," said Snow. "I'm grateful that Graco has responded to our concerns and can offer moms a little peace of mind."
Child health advocates have been urging Graco to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals since 2008, when the Ecology Center first started testing products for their consumer database, HealthyStuff.org.
"Our 2011 car seat report showed that Graco manufactured one of the most toxic car seats and one of the least toxic," said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center's Research Director and founder of HealthyStuff.org, which has tested hundreds of popular car seats for toxic chemicals. "We thank all of the parents who expressed concern about this inconsistency, and Graco for taking the initiative to make all of their products safer."
Graco told advocates it has committed to ban and monitor four Tris and related chemicals, specifically:
While recognizing that eliminating these toxic flame retardant chemicals puts Graco ahead of most other children's product makers, advocates urged the company to take additional steps to ensure their products no longer contain any hazardous chemicals. Graco is also being asked to disclose chemicals contained in their products and develop an alternatives assessment system to ensure chemicals are inherently safer and lower hazard.
Previously promoted as necessary lifesavers, according to federal researchers and independent scientists, flame retardants added to foam and cushions actually provide no meaningful protection from fires. The ChicagoTribune's blockbuster investigative series revealing the deception behind flame retardant chemical standards has generated new momentum to phase them out and better regulate their use. California Governor Jerry Brown has directed a state agency to revise that state's flammability standards, which could eliminate the need for flame retardant chemicals in furniture nationwide. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's (D-IL) Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee is holding a hearing Tuesday on the effectiveness of federal government flame retardant standards.
Still, due in part to increasing pressure from consumers, manufacturers are taking action in advance of regulation and Graco is just the latest example. Orbit Baby was the first to market children's car seats free of hazardous flame retardants and Britax followed suit with a commitment to eliminating all hazardous flame retardants that contain bromine or chlorine by the end of 2012.
"Clearly car seats have been a welcome development in protecting our babies from the injuries associated with car accidents," said Gigi Lee Chang, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, a national non-profit empowering parents to protect children from toxic chemicals. "But protecting our children from one risk shouldn't involve introducing them to another. As we wait for Congress to enact more meaningful chemical reform, we applaud companies like Graco for stepping up and protecting our children's health."
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