Test: Which chemicals are in children’s highchairs?

4. jan 2017

13 highchairs for children have been chemically tested on a laboratory. More than half of the chairs were without unwanted chemicals, but some contained problematic chemicals.

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Test: Which chemicals are in children's highchairs?
Photo: Getty Images

Highchairs for children receive the best assessment

In a test from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals more than half of the tested highchairs are without or only with very small traces of unwanted chemicals. In total 7 chairs receive the best mark in the test.

Some highchairs release unwanted chemicals

6 highchairs for children contain or release different unwanted chemicals – for example chemicals that are allergenic, can affect children’s nervous system or are classified as possible carcinogenic (for example formaldehyde, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)).

The substances in the highchairs are all legal, and the products with problematic chemicals are not problematic in themselves. However, unwanted chemicals in products can contribute to the combined exposure to chemicals that children encounter from many sources in their daily lives – the so-called cocktail effect. Therefore it is a good idea to avoid these chemicals when possible.

See the products and assessments in the test here (link to the test in Danish).

For further questions about the test contact Stine Müller, projectmanager in The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, on e-mail sm@fbr.dk. Read more about how we tested and what we found in the tab below.

How we tested and what we found

How we tested

13 highchairs have been on the laboratory for chemical analysis. The chairs are tested for:

  • Phthalates
  • Flame retardants
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Phenols – including bisphenol A

Furthermore the lacquered wooden highchairs are also tested for release of heavy metals and content of formaldehyde.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested the content in a composite sample of the materials that are close to the child – the seat, tray and strap/restrain from the chair.

What we found

The overall test results:

  • 7 products receive the best mark. They are without or only with very small traces of unwanted chemicals.
  • 4 products receive the middle mark. 3 contain small amounts of the flame retardant Tphp and phenol. 1 chair releases small amount of lead from the lacquer.
  • 2 products receive the lowest mark. They contain PAHs. 1 also releases lead from the lacquer.

Read more: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals’ test methods.

PAHs

7 highchairs are without content of poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 5 chairs contained smaller amounts.

The last 2 highchairs, Babytrold and Flexa Højstol, contained PAH’s in larger amounts than the other products.

In both instances it was amongst others the PAH naphthalene which by the EU is classified as possibly carcinogenic. The substance is unwanted in products for children, and both these chairs receive the lowest mark in the test.

The PAH’s found in the highchairs – for example naphthalene – are not prohibited in toy or baby items.

Phthalates

1 highchair contained very small traces of the phthalate DBP in the lacquer. The test shows no traces of phthalates in the other chairs in the test.

Phthalates are among other effects suspected of being disruptive to the hormonal system. The substances have been found in lacquer in earlier tests.

In Denmark all phthalates are banned in toys and in some types of baby items, including some parts of high chairs.

Flame retardants

9 highchairs were without phosphorous flame retardants. The last 4 chairs contained smaller amounts of 1 flame retardant, Tphp.

Flame retardants can be carcinogenic and are suspected to be endocrine disrupting.

Some flame retardants are banned in toys, but not Tphp. The ban does not concern baby items such as highchairs for children either.

Phenol

In 3 highchairs a minor level of phenol was detected. These chairs receive the middle mark in the test.

In the EU phenol is classified as suspected of causing genetic defects. A ban against release of phenol from toys is in the process of being adopted in the EU.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is allergenic. Therefore it is unwanted in products that children are in close contact with.

The wooden highchair ‘BabyTrold’ released smaller amounts of formaldehyde.

The other wooden highchairs were without formaldehyde.

Heavy metals

The release of heavy metals from the lacquer in the wooden chairs was limited.

2 highchairs, BabyTrold and Hauck Alpha, released smaller amounts of lead from the lacquer.

The release of lead is under the allowable limit for toys. However, the release is unwanted, because lead can affect the nervous system, for example affecting learning ability and intelligence.