News Release


Jenny Levin,
Maryland PIRG

State Lawmakers Address Hidden Hazards In the Nursery

Toxic Flame Retardants Found In 85% of Baby Products Tested, Including Nursing Pillows and Car Seats
For Immediate Release

Health Advocates Urge State Ban On Toxic Tris Flame Retardants 

Annapolis, MD –Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats, contain toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report released by Maryland PIRG. The report is from Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States. Children and families are exposed to the compounds, called Tris chemicals, when they escape from household items and contaminate house dust and indoor air.

 The report, Hidden Hazards In the Nursery, found toxic flame retardants in 85% (17 of 20) of new baby and children’s products tested, including bassinet pads, nursing pillows, changing pads, and car seats. The most prevalent flame retardant found was chlorinated Tris (TDCPP), a chemical voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s when it was found to cause adverse health effects. Chlorinated Tris was present in 80% of the products (16 of 20). California recently classified chlorinated Tris as a carcinogen, and evidence links the chemical to neurotoxicity as well as hormone disruption. 

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about hidden toxic chemicals in their child’s nursing pillow or car seat. Unfortunately, our testing shows many items contain toxic flame retardants that put our children’s health at risk,” said Jenny Levin, Maryland PIRG State Advocate. 

Children’s health advocates are calling on the Maryland Legislature ban the use of toxic Tris flame retardants in children’s products beginning July 1, 2014. House Bill 107, sponsored by Delegate James Hubbard (D-23A), will ban one of several toxic flame retardants in the recent report. 

“Toxic flame retardants have no business being in products we bring into our homes, especially in items for kids who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures. Makers of children’s products need to ensure their products do not contain chemicals that harm children’s health,” said Delegate James Hubbard. 

“You shouldn’t have to be a scientist to protect your children from toxic chemicals in things they use every day,” said Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. “Legislative action is critical to get these chemicals out of products and making sure companies can’t switch to something worse.” 

The “toxic treadmill” is top concern of children’s health advocates in Maryland. “In addition to taking swift action on dangerous chemicals,” said Maryland PIRG Advocate Jenny Levin, “The General Assembly should do more to ensure alternatives are safer and the public is informed about potentially harmful chemicals.” 

Several children’s products did not contain Tris flame retardants, demonstrating it is possible to make products without Tris chemicals. Products that tested negative for Tris flame retardants were: Eddie Bauer Pop-up Booster Seat, Balboa Nursing Pillow, and First Years Co-Sleeper.  Other companies that are known to not use Tris flame retardants include Boppy, Orbit Baby, and Baby Bjorn. Tips for avoiding toxic flame retardants are available online at 

Background: More and more states are passing laws to address toxic threats in response to the failure of the federal law regulating chemicals. In the last 10 years, 18 states have passed more than 70 laws to protect public health from harmful chemicals.  In Congress, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), proposes a common sense overhaul of the 35-year old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed law would ensure chemical companies provide full information on health and safety before a chemical is allowed on the market and preserve the rights of states to protect their residents with stronger standards.


Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is a statewide, citizen-based nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. Find our more at,, 

The Washington Toxics Coalition is nonprofit organization that works to protect public health and the environment from toxic chemicals in Washington state., or @WA_Toxics

 Safer States (The State Alliance for Federal Reform (SAFER) of chemical policy) is a coalition of state-based organizations championing solutions to protect public health and communities from toxic chemicals., or @SaferStates


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