Trading Down: When Safer Isn’t Really So

In Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Greenspace columnist Sandy Baurs wrote about how in an attempt to fireproof foam products, manufacturers have been exposing babies and children to carcinogens for decades.

The article says, “Sometimes when we try to make products safer, we run into unintended  consequences.”

Essentially, when we try to make things better, sometimes we sort of end up trading down – fireproof pajamas by way of toxic flame retardents, shatterproof bottles by way of BPA plastic, on-the-go baby food by way of noxious preservatives.

So where does it leave us? We need to rely on the FDA, EPA, and other government regulators to actually test the chemicals we are exposed to. But now that 80,000+ new chemicals are on the market in the past couple of decades, the fact that most of them have not been subject to proper investigation is forcing us to work retroactively.

The article suggests that the safest bet is to buy stollers, carseats, and mattresses filled with cotton or wool. But until big name brands start utilizing these materials in these big ticket items, we might have to take the chance that our carseats are offgassing as much as our tailpipes.

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