Safety First, Without Compromising Other Values   Leave a comment

This is one of my procrastinations out of fear right now: there are a number of purchases/tasks when preparing for a baby that are safety related, but for some of them I’ve been afraid that I would have to compromise other values that are equally important to me. The biggest one hanging over my head is the issue of car seat. In order to keep my baby safe in the car, I have to accept the health and developmental risks of exposure to fire retardants, stain repellents, and possibly carcinogenic volatile organic compounds? Based on all of the car seats that I’ve seen in people’s cars, I have no reason to think that I’ll find one that is both safe and healthy. I’ve been afraid to find out. Until today, that is, for this post when I finally did a search online and found that it is correct that I cannot have my cake and eat it too. Healthy Child Healthy World had posted about a press release from Graco that they are phasing out toxic flame retardants, and mentioned that a couple of other manufacturers have already committed to doing so by the end of 2012. (So does that mean I’ll be able to buy one before Baby comes?) But there’s no mention about the stain repellants, or the VOCs that may be offgassing from the foam (this is my biggest concern). Not that a car isn’t already a low air quality air space, but I’m really irritated that I have no choice to put something that may be offgassing something objectionable inches from my baby’s mouth. And there’s nothing I can do about it. Aargh.

At least I can be a little bit more hopeful about a stroller. After explaining my rant to a coworker the other day, she got curious and did a search and found several purportedly environmentally-friendly stroller options. I haven’t studied the list she sent me, but I have hope. At a glance it looks like there may actually be strollers on the market that are made from fabrics that haven’t been coated in known or potentially toxic chemicals, and that aren’t 100% unrecycleable plastic.

One warning that we were planning to ignore was that of not using a secondhand crib. We had an offer to use the crib from someone that I trust to not put their baby in something unsafe. But then they got pregnant again before we did. Then a few weeks ago a coworker offered me a secondhand crib from his family. I did express some skepticism based on the ages of his children, but didn’t rule it out offhand. He crawled up into the attic and measured slats and got a description of it for me, and then I went to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. The conflict that I have with this issue is the idea that a piece of furniture has to be disposable and can’t be reused. I went back and forth a bit as I read the information on the CPSC website. It has a drop side, but that can be immobilized; the slat separation is fine; it doesn’t have cutouts or fancy carvings. BUT it has been sitting in an attic for 10 years. That’s what ruled it out actually, the idea that after 10 years of summer attic heat and winter moisture the expansion and contraction of the wood has almost certainly reduced the structural integrity of the crib with no realistic way to fix it. Eh, so we’ll buy new and use it for both kids. I can wait several years before becoming conflicted about what to do with it when we don’t need it any more.

The most recent safety vs. health issue to be clarified is sleepwear for children. I’d previously seen mention that kids sleepwear is required by federal regulation to be treated by fire retardants. I’m sorry but if there is flame close enough to a baby that fire retardants might make a difference, the problem is already hugely out of control; and I’m skeptical that they would really make a difference if there is flame that close anyway. Back to the CPSC website for me. Turns out that under age 9 months there is no requirement for treatment with fire retardants, and after that they just have to meet a performance standard. So snug fitting sleepwear, or fabrics that don’t easily catch fire may not be treated, and can be labeled as such. Or we can just not buy anything marketed as sleepwear after 9 months and make sure that whatever it is is snug fitting and poses no strangulation hazard. Easy workaround.

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Posted August 20, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, mission, pregnancy, shopping

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