Naptime Nightmares

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A California watchdog group is suing major manufacturers and retailers, including Target and, for selling baby nap mats made with a toxic flame retardant that is also a known carcinogen, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (2/21/13).

The lawsuit is the latest legal move for the group, which last year put the companies on notice for selling or making similarly contaminated changing pads, crib mattresses and other items. While some of the manufacturers and retailers say they’ve started to change their practices, the Center for Environmental Health says it wants the courts to require swift action.

Many foam nap mats, which are widely used at places like day care centers, are doused with flame retardants linked to obesity, hormone disruption and infertility, according to the lawsuit. One of those flame retardants is chlorinated Tris, a carcinogen that was banned more than 30 years ago from children’s pajamas, the group says. These chemicals are released into the air that infants and toddlers inhale as they doze on the mats, said Caroline Cox, the center’s research director. “Kids are sleeping on them with their nose practically right up against the mat,” she said.

According to a report released by the Center, a Duke University scientist found flame retardants in 22 out of 24 nap mats that researchers bought or borrowed in California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other states. According to the lawsuit, the companies illegally failed to inform consumers that the products contain chlorinated Tris, which was banned from pajamas in 1979. That omission violates Proposition 65, the state’s consumer protection law, which requires warning labels on products with certain toxicants, the group said. The group said it can only sue sellers and makers of items with chlorinated Tris, because the other flame retardants found are not subject to Prop. 65.

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