Green Living QA: Is Flame Retardant Dangerous For Babies?


by Veria Living Expert: Beth Greer


How can you tell if baby clothes have been treated with flame retardant when it isn’t notated on the label? Is flame retardant dangerous for babies?


If you bought your child pajamas at a department or children’s store, you can be certain they contain flame retardants even if it’s not listed on the label. In many cases, the fabrics for kid’s pajamas are made with those chemicals bonded right in, before the clothing is cut and sewed. Flame retardants contain *polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE’s. These are known to cause serious health problems in laboratory animals. After years of study, the EPA said that PBDEs are unsafe and there’s now a phase-out plan in effect with the tmanufacturers who produce the chemical. But the ban will not be in effect until the end of 2013.

Most kids spend an average of 10-12 hours in bed every night wearing these pajamas soaking up these chemicals. If you don’t want to give up protection against fire but want to keep your kids protected there are other alternatives.

My tips:

  1. Buy natural-fiber, untreated pajamas with tags stating that it isn’t flame-resistant.
  2. Choose snug-fitting pajamas because they don’t have extra fabric that can ignite. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that snug-fitting untreated cotton sleepers provide as much safety for your child as sleepers treated with fire retardant.
  3. Buy organic cotton pajamas. You can be certain that the cotton used is completely free of all chemicals.
  4. Have your kids sleep in soft cotton t-shirts and leggings or sweat pants that haven’t been treated with flame retardants.
  5. There are other chemicals in kids sleepwear to be aware of: stay away from permanent press, crease resistant, no-iron, shrinkproof, stretchproof, stain-proofed, water-proofed or water repellent items. The chemicals used in these treatments can pose other health risks.

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Beth Greer
Beth Greer

Beth Greer, aka Super Natural Mom®, is an award-winning journalist, green holistic health educator, healthy home expert and impassioned champion of toxin-free living. She’s also a radio talk show host, and trusted consumer advocate, who is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy homes, schools and work environments. Connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter.