Safe Kids Campaign


The problem: Because of California flammability standard TB117, toxic flame retardant chemicals have been used in many baby products containing foam. Children and infants are most sensitive to the adverse health effects of these chemicals, some of which are carcinogens and developmental toxins. Babies are born with these chemicals in their bodies and get a further dose from their mother’s milk and exposure to baby products.

Status: completed. Thanks is part to work done by the Green Science Policy Institute in 2010-2011, most baby products have been exempted from TB117, preventing the further use of these harmful chemicals in these products.

For our current work in this area, see the Children’s Products page.

baby product

Stage 1: Research Collaboration

Green Science Policy partnered with Heather Stapleton of Duke University and Susan Klosterhaus of the San Francisco Estuary Institute to collect foam samples from 101 baby products and identify the flame retardants used. We found that 80% of nursing pillows, changing table pads, baby carriers, car seats, and other baby products tested contained chemical flame retardants which are either known to be associated with adverse health effects or lack adequate health information.

Stage 2: Publications, Presentations, and White Papers

Initial results and policy analyses were presented at the Dioxin 2010 conference in San Antonio and published in Organohalogen Compounds:

The final study was published in Environmental Science & Technology in May 2011:

This study was chosen as ES&T’s top science paper of 2011 and also received significant media coverage. View CBS evening news coverage

Stage 3: Communication of Findings to Decision-Makers and the Public

We have written a Safe Kids Campaign Guide and a Full Report that give an overview of the flame retardant chemicals used in baby products and their health effects, steps to reduce exposure, how to get involved in the campaigns to replace TB117 and reform TSCA, and a list of baby products whose manufacturers state do not contain added flame retardants. Informed parents can choose to buy safer products and can bring their concerns to manufacturers and decision makers.

Policy Outcomes

Prompted in part by our study, the Consumer Product Safety Commission completed testing showing lack of fire hazard from baby products. The Bureau proposed to exempt four baby products from TB117.

We, along with a dozen NGO representatives, wrote the Bureau in support of the proposed exemption, which was then successfully implemented.

As of December of 2010, infant carriers, strollers, nursing pillows, and bassinets are exempted from TB117, which means that manufacturers do not need to add toxic flame retardants to the foam of these products.

Following completion of the Safe Kids Campaign, we have continued to work with the Bureau, supporting their successful 2013 proposal granting a TB117 exemption for 14 additional baby products: Baby walkers, booster seats, car seat pads, car seats, changing pads, floor play mats, highchairs, highchair pads, cradle swings for indoor use, infant seats, infant soothing bouncers, nursing pads, playpen pads, playpen side (bedrail) pads.

Keep up with our continued work on children’s products at the Children’s Products page.