Which high-end non-toxic stroller brands have indications of PFAS “forever chemicals?” Mamavation sent several swatches from high-end strollers off to an EPA-certified lab to analyze them for indications of per & polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are toxic chemicals. This guide to non-toxic, eco-friendly strollers will help you find the safest option for your little baby sans harmful chemicals. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like the best air purifiers, safest car seats without PFAS, and best crib mattresses, now join us for a PFAS study on high-end non-toxic baby strollers.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. The product swatches were tested at an EPA-certified lab for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals” and were donated by Sprouts San Francisco. This post contains affiliate links and a discount code from the store that was gracious enough to donate products for this study.
Mamavation Tests Baby Strollers for PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
Strollers are very expensive, so you can imagine how hard it would be for us to purchase them all and test them. For this investigation, we had help! Mamavation received donations of stroller swatches from a small family-owned boutique store called Sprouts San Francisco. They sent us swatches from several of the most popular high-end “non-toxic” baby strollers that were offered in their store. (Sprouts offers non-toxic baby gear like the best diaper bag, car seats, rain covers, strollers, children’s clothing, non-toxic toys, etc. )
We sent each swatch off to an EPA-certified laboratory to test for indications of PFAS “forever chemicals.” Mamavation’s lab used marker testing of organic fluorine to identify the potential presence of PFAS “forever chemicals” in stroller swatches. Organic fluorine is a marker for PFAS because all PFAS chemicals are carbon-based compounds that contain fluorine. The specific lab method used by Mamavation tested for total fluorine was the Determination of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode. If total fluorine was observed at a detection level of 10ppm, the lab did the Determination of free Fluoride Ion in the stroller swatch by Ion-Selective Electrode and then subtracted that from the Total Fluorine to determine the amount of organic fluorine.
The number of strollers on the market globally is endless, but this investigation focuses on strollers that are more high-end. For two reasons: (1) we didn’t have the funds to purchase them, and (2) our natural-minded audience prefers them. So it made perfect sense to us to focus on that end of the market. However, we also included data from another study done by The Ecology Center to fill in the gaps with some more affordable strollers.
We have shared the raw data from our laboratory at the bottom of this investigation to help you make an educated purchasing decision. But before we get there, we will go through what constitutes a “non-toxic” stroller and why you want to make the purchase of one.
PFAS “Forever Chemicals” are Dangerous Around Children
PFAS “forever chemicals” are very problematic to human health and the environment, but in terms of children, they are far more problematic. There are over 12,000 of these persistent chemicals in commerce so they are very hard to track and avoid completely. Because they do not naturally exit the body for many months (or many years) and are not known to degrade in the environment, they were dubbed “forever chemicals.” Therefore, it’s imperative to reduce the amount of PFAS you are exposed to, especially in products like baby strollers.
Not much is known about the dermal exposure of PFAS, which is the route of exposure for clothing & strollers. However, the PFAS chemical class in general and its exposure to children is very concerning, and the more you can avoid this chemical around children, the better.
“Children’s bodies are still developing and are especially sensitive to chemical exposures,” says co-author Dr. Laurel Schaider, senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute. “It makes sense that parents would want to steer clear of products that contain ingredients that could impact their children’s health now and in the future.”
Here’s a list of some of the health issues linked with PFAS “forever chemicals”:
- reduction in immunity
- reduced vaccination response
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increase cholesterol levels
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- lowers male fertility through low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of kidney & testicular cancers
- Causes endocrine disruption
- Disrupts normal thyroid function
If you feel like your child has been exposed to PFAS, especially during pregnancy, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of Community Health Investigations has created this health advisory fact sheet to use when talking to your pediatrician.
What to Look For in a Non-Toxic Baby Stroller
When you don’t have access to independent testing, there are some basic principles to use when shopping for a baby stroller. When you have a baby you have so much bogus marketing directed at you that it becomes confusing to make educated non-toxic decisions. In terms of baby strollers, this is what you want to look for.
- More Natural Materials: Before you freak out too much, just note that there is no such thing as the perfect stroller made from all-natural materials. We could not find a perfect stroller made of just natural materials, however, you can find strollers made with organic cotton, wool, flax, latex, etc. Sadly, not all brands utilizing these types of natural materials were safe from indications of PFAS, however, we are hoping they reformulate their products in the near future. But look for brands using more natural materials in general.
- Safer waterproofing: Waterproofing is mostly made of PFAS “forever chemicals” of some kind, but there are PFAS free waterproofing options. Those are mostly from polyurethane-coated polyester fabric (600D) or plant-based oils. Both options are considered non-toxic, with plant-based oils being the least problematic. But the trick here is to look for what they are using to make it waterproof. If they don’t tell you anything, pass!
- Free From Heavy Metals & Other Toxins: Look for statements on the website regarding toxic chemicals and what they are “free from.” These are not always 100% true (because I’ve tested to discover some flaws), but brands that make declarative statements about what they are “free from” are more likely to be free from those things. However, note that few manufacturers state comprehensively that their strollers are free of all the toxins like PVC, phthalates, bisphenols, flame retardants, and PFAS. But pay close attention because some of them make claims applying to certain parts, not the whole stroller. You want declarative statements about the entire stroller.
What to Avoid If You Want a Non-Toxic Stroller
There are so many types of toxic chemicals that can be found in strollers that it can make your head spin. However, here are the basic chemicals and materials you want to avoid :
- PFAS “Forever Chemicals”: These are a class of over 12,000 chemicals used in manufacturing to provide water, stain, and grease resistance that have the ability to harm almost every organ in your body. In addition to being highly toxic, they are also persistent in the environment, which is why they are dubbed “forever chemicals.” It’s important to look for products that do not contain this class of chemicals. At the end of this post, we will reveal our testing of strollers for indications of this chemical class.
- Flame Retardant Chemicals: Toxic flame retardants are potent endocrine disruptors. Linked to reproductive health issues and infertility, cancers, hazardous effects on fetal development, neurological damage, and developmental delays according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2014, strollers sold in the US were released from having had to pass very stringent flammability tests, which meant most of them stopped using flame retardants. However, polyurethane foam and fabrics such as polyester may be treated with flame retardants before they make it into the finished stroller.
- Brominated Flame Retardants: Some of the worst types of flame retardants are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These types of flame retardants are no longer produced in the US and are illegal in some states, however they can sneak in when strollers are made in other countries. In fact, PBDEs are still used by manufacturers in countries like India and China. This is where most strollers are made, so be on the lookout! Are there regulations to prevent strollers manufactured outside the United States from using them? No. So if your products come from overseas, be extra careful to avoid PBDEs.
- Polyurethane foam: Understand that polyurethane foam is almost entirely unavoidable when shopping for strollers because most manufacturers are using it to provide cushioning. However, I still wanted to point this out because polyurethane foam is made from petroleum products and is highly flammable. This is the reason why some strollers use flame retardants to treat their products because they are afraid the stroller will somehow catch on fire. However, using flame retardants is not a good trade because of the toxicity issues we discussed above. Another problem is polyurethane foam breaks down over time into toxic dust particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are hazardous to the health of children. VOCs are linked to respiratory irritation, skin issues, and other types of health issues.
- PVC: Polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC is a type of plastic that typically contains an endocrine disruptor called phthalates. It makes plastic rigid or flexible. PVC is the third most common plastic and it’s relatively cheap to use, so it’s no wonder why it shows up so much inside strollers. Typically, you’ll find PVC used on rain covers, storage mesh, and other thin fabric components.
Report on Car Seats Includes Some Strollers
Mamavation tested mostly high-end strollers, but we wanted to include other types of strollers, so we have pulled some additional information from The Ecology Center. The Ecology Center released a consumer study looking at several types of infant car seats and the toxic chemicals they contain. They sent several infant car seats to an EPA-certified lab looking for the indications of chemical fire retardants and PFAS “forever chemicals.” The results had some good news and bad news, but it leaves LOTS of room for improvement for the most popular brands.
The brands tested were Baby Trend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Costco, Evenflo, Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Safety 1st, and UPPAbaby. We’ve included those results in our breakdown of recommendations below.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Non-Toxic Stroller Brands
Mamavation sent several high-end stroller swatches off to an EPA-certified lab looking for organic fluorine, which is a chemical marker for PFAS. We looked at full-size strollers mostly dedicated for everyday use, not double strollers, jogging strollers, lightweight strollers, umbrella strollers, compact strollers, convertible strollers, travel systems or other baby gear.
Here are the categories we created to help you make an educated decision about what non-toxic stroller you would like to purchase.
- Not Our Favorite Stroller Brands: Swatches from each brand were sent to an EPA-certified lab and came back with detections of organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS “forever chemicals” according to our lab.
- Better Stroller Brands: Swatches from this category were tested by the Ecology Center. They did not find indications of PFAS, but they found fire retardants.
- Best Non-Toxic Stroller Brands: We consider these brands non-toxic strollers. Swatches from each brand were sent to an EPA-certified lab and came back with non-detect results for organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS. These brands have also made declarative statements to avoid chemical fire retardants and other contaminants. Therefore, these are the brands we recommend you purchase.
Not Our Favorite Stroller Brands
Swatches from each brand were sent to an EPA-certified lab and came back with detections of organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS “forever chemicals” according to our lab.
- Babytrend Envy — Indications of PFAS found by Ecology Center
- Babyzen — 188 ppm organic fluorine
- Bugaboo Bee — 524 ppm and 28 ppm on different swatch pieces
- Graco Verb Click Connect — Indications of PFAS found by Ecology Center
- Joolz — 141 ppm and 12 ppm organic fluorine on different swatch pieces
- Uppababy NOA — 25 ppm organic fluorine (blue swatch) & non-detect organic fluorine (brown swatch)
(Note to brands: When you have reformulated, consider sending us more swatches of your new material and we can have it independently tested again.)
Better Stroller Brands
Swatches from this category were tested by the Ecology Center. They did not find indications of PFAS, but they found fire retardants.
- Cosco Lift & Stroll — no indications of PFAS were found by the Ecology Center but they did find flame retardants
- Safety 1st Smooth Ride — no indications of PFAS were found by the Ecology Center but they did find flame retardants
Best High-End Non-Toxic Stroller Brands
We consider these brands non-toxic strollers. Swatches from each brand were sent to an EPA-certified lab and came back with non-detect results for organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS. These brands have also made declarative statements to avoid chemical fire retardants and other contaminants. Therefore, these are the brands we recommend you purchase.
- Nuna Strollers— non-detect organic fluorine on three separate Mixx Next swatch pieces. (Available at Sprouts San Francisco & receive 10% off by using discount code “mamavation” at checkout.)
- Bumbleride Strollers— non-detect organic fluorine on black boot swatch. (Available at Sprouts San Francisco & receive 10% off by using discount code “mamavation” at checkout.)
(We were not able to test all products. Particularly, swatches from the following strollers were not sent: Zoe strollers, Bitax, Uppababy Vista, Uppababy Cruz, Bugaboo Fox, Bumbleride Indie Stroller, etc. Therefore, we do not have a recommendation on those products. We are open to donations so we can test those brands.)
Additional Mamavation Investigations To Help Your Family
Mamavation has been working hard to discover where to find PFAS “forever chemicals” inside food & other products we purchase and bring inside our homes. This is why we have decided to commission our own consumer studies on indications of PFAS in different consumer categories and share that information with you.
- Pasta & Tomato Sauces
- Nut Butters (Peanut butter, etc.)
- Activewear (Yoga Pants)
- Sports Bras
- Green Beauty Makeup
- Period Underwear
- Parchment Paper
- Bamboo Flooring
We also have other non-toxic investigations on products for your children or the rest of your family. Here are some that we thought you may like.
- Best Car seats
- Best Crib Mattresses,
- Best Clothing for Children
- Best Jackets & Outerwear
- Best “Nugget” Styled Play Couches
- Best Yoga mats
- Best Organic Mattresses
- Best Air purifiers
- Best Cookware
- Best Plant-Based Milks
- Best Water Filters for PFAS Filtration
- Best Collagen
- Best Electrolyte Replacement Drinks, Sports Drinks, & Coconut Water
- Best Infrared Saunas
- Best Bubble Bath
Click here for a complete list of product investigations.