Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Toxins Bite


Ah, to be a child in the 1970s: eating DDT-laced apples, playing in a room coated in lead paint, and snuggling up for bedtime in flame-retardant pajamas. The good old days?

Definitely not. Fortunately, we’ve since discovered the toxic effects of these chemicals and they’ve been banned for some time. Well…sort of. The flame retardant chlorinated Tris (also known as TDCPP) was voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas in the late 1970s after it was found to cause negative effects on health. But the chemical, a suspected carcinogen, has not disappeared. The United States still produces ten to fifty million pounds of it each year, primarily to be used in furniture foam and…yup, baby products.

Last week, the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States released a study showing that toxic flame retardants were present in 85 percent of new baby and children’s products tested, including bassinet pads, nursing pillows, changing pads and car seats. Chlorinated Tris was the most prevalent toxin, found in 16 of the 20 products tested.

California is partly to blame for the chemical’s seeming omnipresence. In 1975, the state passed strict flammability standards on furniture (though it exempted strollers, baby carriers, and nursing pillows) and manufacturers complied by adding chlorinated Tris to their products. No other state has such a standard; as a result, the rest of the country has followed California’s lead.

In October, however, California declared chlorinated Tris a carcinogen. The move does not ban the chemical, but requires manufactures to include warning labels on any product that contains it. And last week, spurred by the WTC’s report, two Washington state legislators introduced bills that would ban chlorinated Tris from children’s products.

So far there has been no federal measure to ban the chemical, but never underestimate the collective outrage of mothers, who are sure to push for a change with this recent report (look what moms helped do to BPA, after all). In the meantime, check out these tips from the WTC on how to avoid chlorinated Tris in your home.

(Photo: Flickr)


  1. Looking to purchase a crib mattress for a new little one arriving soon. After reading this article, I am wondering what is a recommended brand of mattress.

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