Is EVA Foam Toxic?

EVA foam padding is a popular choice for play mats for babies and toddlers. They come in various styles, click together like puzzle pieces, and make a soft area for young children to play on. As a parent with concerns about chemical exposure, read on to learn if EVA foam is toxic.

is eva foam toxic

EVA stands for Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, a type of foam with a rubbery texture similar to that of a yoga mat but with less give. It is a durable material that feels soft and doesn’t crack easily. 

EVA padding is popular for making cosplay costumes, crafts, and sports equipment. It’s also become quite popular as play mats for babies and children and is considered a safe option by many.

EVA Foam Safety

A chemical called formamide is used during manufacturing to make EVA padding pliable. Formamide is a carcinogen, and it does off-gas. So babies and toddlers playing on EVA foam mats are exposed to formamide in the air they breathe, and they can absorb it through their skin. 

In 2010, France temporarily banned the sale of foam puzzle mats containing formamide due to concerns about toxic fumes. This lead to stricter regulations in the EU, limiting the presence of certain chemicals, including substances like formamide.

Products made from EVA foam must now comply with the REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and the Toy Safety Directive in the EU.

Reducing Chemical Load

If you are concerned about reducing your family’s body burden of toxic chemicals, doing what you can to stay away from formamide use in EVA foam is a good idea. 

The EU Chemicals Agency has found high levels of formamide emissions from foam mats in a study that provided relevant information calling for further assessment of children’s exposure to indoor air pollution from foam mats. 

However, other studies have shown that the chemical outgassing of formamide drops off quickly, so any amounts conceivably inhaled by children playing on EVA foam mats are so low that they could not cause any health issues. 

It’s hard to know what to think exactly, and while I tend to avoid freaking out about nothing, this is very unclear. In an effort to detox my home, I prefer to choose options that are known to be toxin-free.

Formamide is a toxin that, in high doses, can potentially cause reproductive or developmental harm. This concern, paired with other play mat options, leads me to believe that it’s best to choose something else besides an EVA foam play mat for babies and toddlers until there is more clear evidence that it is safe.

EVA Padding Concerns

The concerns about EVA foam padding shouldn’t be ignored. When we consider the amount of time babies might spend directly exposed to formamide off-gassing, the possible risks aren’t worth it when there are other options. 

When you add up tummy time, playing, learning to sit, crawl, and even putting the foam together as puzzles, babies can spend a large portion of their first year absorbing the chemical off-gassing of EVA mats by breathing it in and through their skin. 

There are other, safer options to use instead of EVA foam mats. Given the ease of alternatives, or even using a quilt or blanket, choosing not to use these mats is the best way to avoid possible adverse side effects on our children’s health.

Non-toxic EVA Foam Mats

Some companies tout that their EVA foam play mats for babies and toddlers are formamide-free. I’ve read that it is possible to make EVA padding without formamide. However, I’m unsure what else they might use to create the foam’s pliable nature. 

Some sources I’ve read say that making EVA foam without formamide is possible. Others say that they all use formamide but that if it’s in low enough amounts, they can say it’s formamide-free. 

These foam tiles seem like safer choices for non-toxic EVA floor mats. It’s always a good idea to research and do what feels right for you and your family.

FoamTiles certifies that its kid-safe EVA padding tiles are non-toxic, allergen-free, lead-free, formamide-free, BPA-free, and fire-retardant-free. This company has all its EVA foam products third-party tested to ensure their safety. 

Soft Tiles are formamide-free, non-toxic, and free of BPA, phthalates, latex, and fire retardants. 

EVA Playmat Alternatives

There are some great alternatives for non-toxic play mats that are safe bets instead of EVA foam mats. This list of the best non-toxic baby toys recommends a few safe mats along with other non-toxic toys for babies. 

Toki Mats are beautiful organic play mats. They are GOLS-certified organic or Okeo-Tex-certified non-toxic. Their foam inserts are made from all-natural latex foam derived from tree sap. 

Piccalio play mats have foam inserts made from rubber trees and organic cotton. The materials they use are also GOLS-certified organic or Okeo-Tex certified non-toxic. 

This non-toxic cork floor mat is for yoga but works great for a toddler play area. It is easy to clean and provides perfect grip and padding for toddlers.

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