Disposable diapers seem to be a necessity in today's lifestyle of convenience and temporary items. Though they are commonly used, synthetic, single-use diapers often contain chemicals linked to long-term health conditions. A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health (1999) states that disposable diapers should be considered to be a factor that may cause or worsen childhood asthma and respiratory problems. The soft, sensitive skin of babies is also prone to rashes and allergic reactions due to the chemicals in disposable diapers.
Most disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine, resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the environment and the diapers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and are listed by the EPA as highly carcinogenic chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.
Sodium polycarbonate is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies.
Many disposable diapers contain a chemical called tributyl-tin (TBT). According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms. Additionally, according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.
Other chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics and petrolatums. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.
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Noreen Kassem is a physician in London, UK. She has extensive experience in clinical research and an undergraduate honors degree background in Kinesiology and Biology. Noreen is coeditor of several articles published in the British Medical Journal and writes a monthly health column for a London based lifestyle magazine. She is a contributing editor and writer for publications including Women's Health, LiveStrong, Check Up and Alive Magazine (Canada).
Thank you for this info. I am a loyal cloth diaper user of 10 years. :)ReplyDelete
Wow, unfortunate I didn't know this before my boy grew out of diapers :/ReplyDelete
What about Huggies Pure and Natural or Pamper's Sensitive? Are those better options? I don't have cloth diapers and don't know how to get enough of them without spending a ton of money.ReplyDelete
Start off with two bumgenius 4.0 and buy more each week if u like that's what I did. It's so easy! And cheap too! Bumgenius also has a sprayer for poop. Look up cloth diapering by natural mama on YouTube and email me with any questions. Dansegliojenna@yahoo.comDelete
Well done. Well stated. I'm passing this along. Thank you.ReplyDelete
@Anonymous - look into chlorine free diapers like Earth's Best or 7th Generation. And try to save up for some cloth - you can purchase entire sets that will last birth through potty training for as little as $100 - Ecobum brand that I am thinking.
Agree on the $ - we purchased 2 dozen, one-size (fully adjustable) pocket diapers on sale (online) for about $15 each which equates to $360 initially - BUT they lasted for ALL of our diapering years - for TWO kids! This saves a ton of money that would have been spent on disposables (not to mention all that waste we didn't contribute to landfills) and pocket diapers are amazing for keeping bums happy and dry.ReplyDelete
It is interesting how many parents to be ensure they paint their nursery with non-VOC paint but then load the change table with packages of disposable diapers. I would be more concerned with the VOCs on my child's bottom then the VOCs on the wall.ReplyDelete
And for those that do not know, cloth saves an average of $2000 per child over the cost of disposables. The upfront cost may be scary but once you do the math, the numbers speak for themselves.
The Kawaii brand cloth diapers are only about $7 per diaper so reasonably priced & they are great quality. As for the person who asked about the Huggies Pure & Natural if you look into it they actually have a ton of chemicals as well. There are no regulations about using the word 'natural' on products so often things labeled natural might have one natural thing in them but the rest of the product is just as bad as its 'unnatural' version. For more info on that watch: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2011/lousylabels/ReplyDelete
Hi, this is very interesting, I love your post. I thought that i could just like or link this page on my facebook, but i think that everything you said is very important, that every one should be able to understand your publication. Everyone on my page has the Portuguese as their first language, not everyone is fluent in English, would be great if I could translate. Is it possible that I copy, translate and give the credit to you and your webpage? Thank you!ReplyDelete
Renata ~ please contact us directly at DrMomma.email@example.com so that we can connect you with the author and provide you with copyright information. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Check out Jillian's Drawers, its located in Ithaca, NY. An excellent cloth diapering resource, among other things!ReplyDelete
I never knew that there are dangers lurking in baby diapers! This is such a relief specially for moms out there!ReplyDelete
What about the 7th Generation diapers?? Or are they still as bad since still disposable?ReplyDelete
7th generation are a good option for disposable diapers and are usually quit easy to find! An even better option is Brody chick biodegradable disposables (which you can purchase at Sobeys if you live in Canada) or Honest biodegradable disposables (which can be purchased online, jessica albas company, if you live in the US). As for awesome, cheap, soft, and non bulky cloth diapers search ebay.com, I just received my cloth diapers from ebay and am loving them and only paid $56 for 15 pocket diapers and 15 cloth inserts (the insert can get soaked and the babys bum stays dry along with the material touching babes bum). Previously I used Kushies all in one cloth diapers which I purchased from toys r us, 5 pairs $50 plus tax, and they are way to bulky and outer waterproofing is so course and leaves marks on babys thighs, and once peed in they feel pretty wet...not a fan of Kushies. Hope this info helps! you can def do cloth for cheap and these ebay diapers have snaps so they are easily worn throughout diapering years as the size adjusts! :)ReplyDelete
Have always used cloth diapers... organic as well - did some research on pesticides and horrible processing treatment etc to cotton and now all I buy for my kids is organic. Look into it - if your going to change to cloth go all the way to organic. We need to start to be aware of the chemicals we're exposing our children to - they linger in our bodies for generations!!!ReplyDelete
To the poster concerned about cost: another very inexpensive option is to use prefolds. It is an "old school" cloth diaper with a waterproof snap or velcro cover over the top. I actually prefer them to all-in-ones for function, comfort and variety of fit. The diapers themselves can go for as little as a few dollars a piece and you can get away with just a handle of covers, especially if you attach a diaper sprayer to your toilet (a must-have, in my opinion). Children who use this type of diaper that lets them feel wet also often potty train earlier as they learn to recognize the feeling of elimination earlier. I currently nanny for two little ones, and the one in prefolds is already using the toilet consistently, at 22 months, and the other, in all-in-ones, has not even begun to show interest at 21 months. And I second the poster who advertised for Jillian's Drawers, I am lucky enough to live in Ithaca where they are based :)ReplyDelete
Because the cloth were so expensive, we registered for them for the baby shower. We started an Amazon registry for that reason and we got all the diapers gifted to us!ReplyDelete