A study performed by Duke University in 2011 found toxic flame retardants in the foam of 80 percent of baby products tested, including changing table pads. These chemicals—linked to reduced IQ, learning disabilities, hormone disruption, and cancer—leak from products into house dust, which toddlers frequently ingest due to hand-to-mouth behavior.
The most common flame retardant that popped up in baby products is chlorinated tris, a chemical that was banned in children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to concerns that it might cause cancer. A type of flame retardants called PBDEs were also found, despite being voluntarily phased out by manufacturers in recent years and banned in the European Union (EU).
Not only is the foam a serious concern, what it’s wrapped in can be, too. Oftentimes, this toxic foam is covered in toxic PVC, which can leach phthalates and lead linked to other egregious health problems in children.
And you thought dirty diapers were the nastiest thing on your baby’s changing table.
Here’s a simple fix: choose wool or cotton filled contour pads, or portable fabric pads with safer waterproofing materials like polyethylene or polyurethane laminate.