Recently the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor issued a study of toxic chemicals in car and baby car seats. In the baby seat rankings, various car seats from several companies such as Graco and Eddie Bauer were ranked in terms of Lead, Bromine, and Chlorine.
What does this study say about your baby's car seat? They tested only one sample of each model, so we have no idea how these toxic chemicals vary among individual car seats. Also, all seats tested below the FDA allowable limit in Lead, yet each seat is rated relative to the other models tested on a scale from "least concern" to "most concern". Seats with the worst ratings are still within acceptable limits and seats listed as "least concern" may come from a better manufactoring plant than the seat sitting on the shelf in the Albuquerque Wal-Mart. We really don't know what these scales mean, with no absolute and only one sample.
I do think we need to minimize toxic chemicals in our life, but a poorly executed study like this raises an unnecessary amount of fear. And where will all these toxic car seats be disposed, when people rush out to buy new products?
Hopefully the Ann Arbor study will put pressure on car seat manufacturers to make more environmentally and child friendly seats, and open up the discussion on what to do with the toxic stuff we already own, without too many mothers believing they need to buy a new car seat or worrying that they damaged their child by buckling them in.
Here is a more detailed Eopinion review of the study.