Among the things that every expecting parent need are baby bibs, mats and pads. Parents know that these are essential products that make taking care of a baby safer and easier. However, what they may not know is that these products may contain chemicals that are linked to hormone-related health problems. (Take action now!)

Toxic chemicals restricted (and even banned) in Canada are being added to products that babies chew, nap and play on, according to new research. A North American intergovernmental organization tested 43 products, including baby bibs, for the presence of harmful perfluorinated compounds (PFCs, also known as PFAS). These chemicals are added to make clothes and textiles more stain and water resistant.

baby wearing a baby bib

What did the study find?

The testing found that 86 per cent of the products contained at least one of the problem chemicals. One bib, for example, contained nine PFCs including one known as PFOA, which is banned with exemptions in Canada.

Also alarming is that four of the bibs tested contained low levels of a chemical known as PFOS. This chemical should be strictly banned in products. One of these bibs was even made in Canada.

Some bibs containing PFCs seem to also be advertised as free of BPA, lead, PVC and/or phthalates, giving consumers the impression that they are safe and toxics-free.

The study also found PFCs in outdoor and active wear such as jackets and waterproof pants for both children and adults as well as cycling and weight lifting gloves.

Easy-to-wipe stains and spills? Sounds great in theory, except that these chemicals don’t stay in the materials they are added to. The study shows that these chemicals can mix with sweat and saliva and get absorbed into our bodies. When washed, these products release the chemicals into the water and contaminate our waterways.

Consumer product testing has repeatedly shown that Canada’s toxics regulations fall short of protecting our children from numerous harmful chemicals. Within a span of a year, testing showed that baby teethers contained a myriad of toxics including BPA and parabens, popular food products may be laden with phthalates, and baby bibs and pads full of PFCs.

What can we do about it?

We clearly need to overhaul the way we regulate toxics, and the opportunity to do so is now.  Members of parliament have already made excellent recommendations to reform our toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). These recommendations will lead to stronger protections for children from toxics, firm action on highly hazardous chemicals such as PFCs, and mandate product labelling of toxics.

In just a few weeks, the Minister of Environment of Climate Change will declare whether and when the government will amend CEPA. Sign this petition to urge Minister Catherine McKenna to take swift action to fix our outdated toxics law.

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