CEH: Baby Products Containing Cancer Chemical Not Labeled

Walmart tells NBC Bay Area it will remove questionable items from sales floor

It’s a chemical that was banned from children’s pajamas because of a link to cancer and developmental delays, but now that same chemical is turning up in popular baby and children’s items.

The Center for Environmental Health in Oakland tested crib mattresses, changing pads, nap mats, and other foam filled products.

They say they found significant levels of chlorinated Tris. California law requires stores and makers to clearly post warnings on or near products containing this chemical, which is commonly used as a flame retardant.

CEH announced today it is taking legal action against Walmart, Target, Babies R Us., Kmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, and other stores that are not complying with the law.

Following questions from the Investigative Unit, Walmart told NBC Bay Area it will remove the items in question from its sales floor. They also said they would work to restrict online sales. 

"As we can look into the facts around this and confirm compliance with Prop 65 labeling requirements, we are notifying our stores in California to remove the items from our sales floor, and we are working to restrict online sales of these products in California," Walmart's Dianna Gee said in a written statement.

CEH cheered the decision, but clearly wanted more. "We welcome Walmart's decision to protect California children, but parents nationwide have a right to know when baby products at Walmart contain a cancer-causing chemical," said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. "Parents deserve better from Walmart.."

CEH said stores have had a year to post warning labels to tell consumers about products that contain chlorinated tris.

“The warning needs to be really specific and indicate which product and which chemicals are a problem,” Caroline Cox with the Center for Environmental Health said.

When the Investigative Unit shopped the stores in question, we didn’t see any signs- not on the products or the shelves. We shopped Walmart, Target, and Babies R Us stores in the Bay Area. We found diaper changing pads, infant sleepers and nursery furniture on the CEH list of products containing significant amounts chlorinated tris. 

CEH says nap mats used by preschools and childcare centers also contain the chemical.

They say children are exposed by inhaling dust as the foam breaks down and ingesting particles that may rub off of the foam.

“Vaccuming often and washing your child’s hands will reduce exposure. Replace these kinds of products that have foam cushioning with products that use polyester fiber fill or cotton or wool as cushioning rather than the foam,” Cox said.

We reached out to all the other stores in question to find out if they have plans to remove the products or post warnings. As we said above, Walmart said it will now remove the products.

Babies R Us responded saying: "The safety of our customers, is, and always has been, our highest priority, and we require that the products sold in our stores meet or exceed federal and state requirements. We have received a Prop 65 Notice regarding the items you mention below, and have contacted the manufacturers to learn more about the specific claims made by CEH."

Target responded saying: "Target is committed to abiding by state and federal laws and regulations, and we expect our vendors to do the same. At this time, we have received a labeling notice related to Munchkin’s Contour Foam Changing Pad."

List of Products in Violation of California Law- according to CEH

Baby and Children’s Products  [Product (retailer)]

                Nap Mats

  • 1.       Children's Factory Indestructible Folding Rest Mat (Lakeshore Learning)
  • 2.       Peerless Plastics nap mat (Target.com)
  • 3.       Lakeshore Rainbow Rest Mat (Lakeshore Learning)
  • 4.       Peerless Plastics Kindermat (School Specialty)
  • 5.       Safety 1st Microban Nap mat (Amazon.com)

Changing Pads

  • 6.       Munchkin Contour Foam Changing Pad (Target)
  • 7.       Babies R Us contour changing pad (Babies R Us)
  • 8.       dexbaby changing pad (Walmart)

Baby Mattresses and Sleepers

  • 9.       Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Portable Infant Sleeper (Babies R Us)
  • 10.   Nap Nanny Portable Infant Recliner (Babies R Us)
  • 11.   Foundations crib mattress (walmart.com)
  • 12.   Angeles crib mattress (walmart.com)
  • 13.   aBaby.com cradle mattress (amazon.com)
  • 14.   Babies R Us bassinet pad (Babies R Us)
  • 15.   dexbaby universal crib wedge (Babies R Us)
  • 16.   Sweet Beginnings Bassinet Pad (Kmart/Delta)

Other Products

  • 17.       Indulgence Supreme (mattress topper) by Isotonic (Bed Bath & Beyond)
  • 18.       Atelier ottoman (Bed Bath & Beyond)
  • 19.       Threshold ottoman (Target)
  • 20.       Delta parent/child glider (Target)
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