Baby/Kid Gear
Toxic Chemicals in Your Child’s Car Seat

Toxic Chemicals in Your Child’s Car Seat

January 18, 2023

By Megan Boyle, Editorial Director

Parents do a lot of research before they buy a car seat.

They want to know, how does the seat perform in crash tests? What’s its safety record? How will it protect my child in case of collision?

They can usually find plenty of answers to these questions. But they may know far less about the potentially toxic chemicals in the seat itself.

A new report issued by the Ecology Center sheds some light on this important topic in car seat safety. The Michigan-based nonprofit, which has tested 377 car seats since 2006, recently screened 15 car seats sold under 12 brands last year.

Every single seat was found to contain some amount of fire retardant chemicals and 73 percent of them contained halogenated fire retardants, which are especially toxic.

The study ranked Britax and Clek as the best car seats for chemical hazards and Graco, the worst. Visit to see the full results of the study and how individual car seats ranked.

For your child’s safety and protection, make sure you use a car seat and install it properly, regardless of the chemicals it may contain.

Manufacturers add chemical fire retardants to the material inside motor vehicles to prevent car fires, particularly those caused by cigarettes or matches. But kids’ car seats? Children inhale, touch and—after sticking little hands in little mouths— consume these chemicals.

Scientific studies suggest that exposure to fire retardants may cause developmental problems, infertility, hormone disruption—and more. Some fire retardant chemicals are suspected carcinogens and may damage children’s health more than adults.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, issued a regulation in 1991 requiring interior materials of vehicles, including children’s car seats to meet flammability standards. This means that manufacturers will continue using fire retardant chemicals for now.

To learn more, visit the Healthy Child Healthy World Guide to Fire Retardants in Children’s Products.