Safer Products for Babies and Toddlers: Resources and Recommendations for Retailers

Introduction and purpose

The Getting Ready for Baby campaign is providing this document for retailers interested in making and selling safer products for babies and toddlers. It includes resources for avoiding toxic chemicals in certain products and recommendations for comprehensive chemical policies that protect the health of babies and toddlers.

Section 1: Health Risks from Early Life Exposures to Toxic Chemicals

Children are exposed to an array of toxic chemicals from everyday consumer products, including antimicrobials such as triclosan, bisphenol A (BPA), flame retardants, heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFASs), phthalates, and solvents. These chemicals are variously linked to increased risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health conditions, as well as adverse effects on development, reproduction, learning and behavior.

Because exposure to these chemicals is widespread, the Centers for Disease Control has detected triclosan in 75% of people tested and BPA, PFASs and ortho-phthalates in the urine or blood of nearly everyone tested.1 Levels of chemicals in children are often higher than in adults. For example, urinary levels of arsenic,2 chlorinated phenols,3 certain phthalates4 flame retardants and serum levels of triclosan, parabens and the sunscreen chemical benzophenone-35 are higher in children than adults.

Young children ingest, absorb and inhale more chemicals because of their behavior – they crawl and play on the ground (where contaminated dust accumulates) and put their fingers and other things in their mouths. They are also more vulnerable to harm from toxic chemicals, because their bodies absorb more chemicals than adults, their immune systems are not fully developed and brains, organs and other bodily systems are still developing.