Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, referred to as PFAS and “forever chemicals,” are highly toxic. The chemicals are known to increase the risk of numerous injuries including immune system suppression and certain cancers. Notably, they do not break down in the human body or the environment.
Why Do Baby and Children’s Products Contain PFAS?
PFAS are widely used because they are stain-resistant, waterproof, and grease-resistant. These properties make them ideal for use in baby and children’s products. PFAS are prevalent in countless baby and children’s products including bassinets, booster seats, toys and clothing.
Why are PFAS in Baby and Children’s Clothing Bad?
Recent studies show the levels of PFAS in children’s products are extremely elevated. One study in 2022 found PFAS in children’s uniforms. Another study found children’s products labeled as eco-friendly or non-toxic actually contain PFAS.
Most recently, a recent study focused on baby supplies shows high levels of PFAS in a broad range of baby products including clothing, bedding, playmats, snack bags, and toys. The results are especially disturbing because babies and children are very susceptible to the effects of harmful chemicals.
Are PFAS in Baby and Children’s Products Regulated by the Government?
Although the federal government started determining how to regulate PFAS in the environment and some consumer products, there are no federal guidelines limiting the amount of PFAS in children’s clothing and products. Fortunately, states have begun to take matters into their own hands and regulate PFAS. Luckily, the few states that are doing so are enacting stringent and immediate regulations.
For example, California prohibits manufacturers of “juvenile products” from selling any new products containing PFAS after July 1, 2023. The list of juvenile products is exhaustive and includes baby pillows, sleepers, car seats, highchairs, toys, and mattresses. Legislation further mandates that PFAS chemicals must be replaced with the least toxic alternatives.
In Colorado, manufacturers of juvenile products sold after January 1, 2024, are prohibited from selling products with “intentionally added” PFAS chemicals. Intentionally added means chemicals are added during the manufacturing process to give products a specific characteristic such as waterproof or stain-resistant.
Other states such as New York, Maine, and Oregon require manufacturers using PFAS in children’s products to notify the appropriate state health or environmental authority. Even more states including Georgia, Minnesota, and Rhode Island have proposed bills to regulate PFAS in baby and children’s products.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend and all states will follow suit. Ideally, the federal government will take note and strictly regulate PFAS in baby and children’s products.