Sunday, September 16, 2012

Flame Retardants

It can get pretty toasty inside your car. A friend of mine lives in Oklahoma and he said the heat index recently was 120. The thermometer inside his car read 150 degrees and the glue that was holding his dash board together was actually melting. Ouch!

Getting into a car that hot, especially if you are wearing shorts, is no fun. Unfortunately though, besides the obvious physical discomfort, there looms an unknown hazard... the flame retardants in the seats and mats can emit toxins into the air when they get too hot. On an 80 degree weather type of day, the air inside your car can jump to 123 degrees in about an hour.

Flame retardants over the past forty years have been added to almost everything...electronics, upholstery, carpets, textiles, insulation, vehicle parts, children's clothing, etc. Sure, they have been proven effective in preventing fire, but now it seems they are showing up in our food and household dust. These chemicals can accumulate in people and cause adverse health effects. They can interfere with hormones, reproductive systems, thyroid and metabolic function, and affect neurological development in children.

In an attempt to minimize exposure (because frankly that is all we can do, it is everywhere) we cover our couch with a blanket and try to buy new products without flame retardants. Since I am pregnant and out shopping for new baby gear this has become a big topic of concern. Even though there are many new concerns over flame retardants, it continues to be used in children's products such as crib mattresses, changing table pads, nursing pillows, and car seats. That means that many infants are in physical contact with products treated with these chemicals 24 hours a day. Ick! I am doing my best to find ones without it.

Back to cars (ahhh a collective sigh from the men reading this article)...flame retardants are in your car and it is going to get hot outside, not much you can do about that. You can minimize your risk by using a UV-reflecting sheild. Click here to order one now, before you forget...Britax 2 Pack EZ-Cling Sun Shades, Black

And then I guess the best you can do for everything else is be aware for future purchases.  Obviously there are certain places where flame retardants make sense- inside your car could come in handy if you are in an accident, but I feel like unless you are falling asleep on your sofa smoking a cigerette (and I hope you are not) you could probably do without them there and I don't think a baby stroller is in much need. Minimize your exposure if you can.

Further Reading: Are Flame Retardants Safe? Growing Evidence Says 'No'

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