Flame retardants like penta brominated diphenyl ethers (pentaBDE) are added during manufacture to reduce the risk of polyurethane foam catching fire and to slow down burning if it does.
Heather M. Stapleton and colleagues detected potentially toxic flame retardants in 80 percent of the polyurethane foam samples collected from 101 common baby products.
Among them were compounds associated with pentaBDE, suggesting that the substance - banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states - still remains in use, as well as two potential carcinogens, TCEP and TDCPP.
"Future studies are therefore warranted to specifically measure infants exposure to these flame retardants from intimate contact with these products, and to determine if there are any associated health concerns," said the researchers.
The study is published in ACS' journal Environmental Science and Technology.