Flammable pants sold as sleepwear

Seven On Your Side
December 24, 2008 3:08:51 PM PST
Since the federal government enacted children's sleepwear standards, the number of sleepwear-related deaths has decreased to a tenth of what it was. And parents have now come to expect that the nightgown or pajamas they buy will not catch fire. But we found one major retail chain that was apparently violating the regulations and putting children at risk.When an open flame is put to a child's cotton pant, it burns in seconds. If the pant caught fire while a child was wearing it..."It was 100 percent ignition and it would be very severe burns," retired clothing maker, Artie Mintz told 7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips. The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations are very clear: all children's sleepwear must be made of flame-resistant material or be tight fitting so that it won't brush against open flames. And anything sold as "loungewear" like these casual pants, "must comply with sleepwear standards."

"We believe that children that may use and parent who may buy lounge pants will use them for the same thing they use sleepwear for. We believe that children that may use and parents who may buy lounge pants will use them for the same thing they use sleepwear for," said Nychelle Fleming of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In other words, children fall sleep in "loungewear" pants. And where did we find these garments? We went to three Target stores, in Valley Stream, in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, and in Riverdale in the Bronx.

CPSC regulations say stores must "segregate, by placement in different parts of a department or store" sleepwear from items that "resemble items of children's sleepwear." The reason? So that the items are... "Clearly identified so that the consumer doesn't have any confusion about what they're purchasing," said Nychelle Fleming.

Yet at the Valley Stream store, these cotton pants, clearly marked "not intended for sleep" were sold on a rack right next to sleepwear.

When we took them to a lab, and burned a swatch according to CPSC specifications, the cotton pants went up in flames.

In Brooklyn, fleece pants and sleep pants were on back-to-back racks. When we took the fleece pants to the lab, they melted into sticky globs.

And in Riverdale, the boys' fleece pants and sleep pants were sold on the same rack.

And while the fleece pants and cotton pants burned, look what happens when flame is applied to safe sleepwear. The fire goes out.

We asked a sleepwear expert how consumers would know about these regulations. "It's up to the retailer to be self-policing," said Artie Mintz.

After we inquired, the CPSC sent investigators to same Target stores we went to. "We re aware of the concern and actively investigating that, said the CPSC's Nychelle Fleming.

Target told us "Our company policies specify that children's loungewear be placed separately from children's sleepwear, and we apologize if our guests found instances where this didn't occur. While the product is clearly marked so our guests can distinguish between loungewear and sleepwear, we are sending out additional communication to our stores to ensure these products are placed in the correct location."

When we went back to the three stores, more than a week later, we found the products were now clearly separated at the Valley Stream store. But, in Riverdale, they were still on back-to-back racks. And in Brooklyn, the flammable pants and safe sleepwear were now on the same rack.

We checked other stores and found sleepwear clearly separated from other clothing. But it's up to parents to be careful. If you are buying clothing that you child might sleep in, check the label attached to the garment and sewn in a seam to make sure it's safe.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone