Sitting Pretty


If you're lucky, or just late on the baby train like me, you'll probably inherit a car seat and save yourself some money. But a report from Healthy today shares some research from the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor that declares all car seats are not created equal. The same group that shed light on the poisonous toxins behind that new car smell has looked into toxic chemicals in child car seats and ranked the best and worst in terms of toxic chemical content.

The bad news is they found that some car seats are made with several dangerous chemicals that can lead to serious health risks for children. Some of the chemicals tested for include: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metal allergens. Such chemicals have been linked to major health problems such as liver, thyroid and developmental problems.

The Ecology Center tested 62 brand new infant, convertible and booster car seats, and while some seats are virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, others are saturated. To sample the car seats, they used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, which identifies the elemental composition of any material.

The best seats had no brominated flame retardants, no PVC and low levels of other chemicals tested. Over 40% of seat cushions tested contained no brominated flame retardants and 77% of the seats were free of PVC-plastic. However, over 1/3 of all seats tested had one or more components which contained higher levels of toxic chemicals. A complete ranking of all of the car seats that were tested can be found at, so check our your car seat by brand name.

Other tips:

  • Try to keep the car seat out of the sun if possible because heat breaks the plastic down over time.
  • Open the windows in the car when possible.
  • Don't let your baby sleep in the car seat for any longer than necessary.