The Center for Environmental Health - an Oakland, California based eco-watchdog group, announced this week that they are suing major manufacturers and retailers, including Target and, for selling nap mats made with a toxic flame retardant that is also a known carcinogen.

According to the group, children’s nap mats from California, New York, Washington, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut contain harmful flame retardant chemicals.  The nap mats, which are used in homes, schools, and in daycares nationwide, were found to contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer, genetic damage, obesity, infertility, allergies, hormone disruption, and other serious health problems. Researchers found flame retardants in 22 out of 24 nap maps tested. One of those flame retardants is chlorinated Tris, a carcinogen that was banned more than three decades ago from children's pajamas. The findings, which were conducted by researchers at Duke University, were released in the report, “Naptime Nightmares? Toxic Flame Retardants in Child Care Nap Mats.”

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 recently in an interview.  “There is no reason parents should have to worry that their children will be exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious problems when they take a nap at daycare,” Cox noted in the center's recent press release.

To avoid flame retardants in nap mats, the Center for Environmental Health urges child care providers and parents to look for nap mats made without polyurethane foam. Parents and child care providers should instead look for nap maps made from polyester fiberfill, cotton, and wool.

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