Blog Archive

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Are disposable diapers dangerous?

CBC News recently posted This Article asking that very question.

They referred back to the pampers lawsuit and the claims that the new dry max diapers are causing bad diaper rashes and even chemical burns.

They state "Regardless of the legal outcome, the bad Pampers press has shed light on the fact that parents are largely in the dark about the chemicals found in the disposable diapers their children wear. There's little data available." So True.

They also go on to say "Research on the issue is scant. Apart from the countless websites set up by eco-conscious groups or purveyors of organic diapers, very little scientific literature exists on the chemicals diaper manufacturers use.

There is an often-cited study by Andersen Laboratories in 1999, published in the Archives of Environmental Health. In the study conducted on mice, scientists found that "diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,'' according to lead author Rosalind Anderson, a physiologist. She found that the mice suffered asthma-like symptoms when exposed to a variety of diaper brands.

It was noted that xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins; along with styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin.

Diapers contain a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants, some of which can cause irritation."


"a manufacturing consulting website, The Diaper Industry Source, says most disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a super-absorbant gelling material. A polymer, it has the ability to absorb 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a very useful diaper component in its ability to contain urine.

Sodium polyacrylate's material safety data sheet indicates that "the respirable dust is a potential respiratory tract irritant." The dust "may cause burning, drying, itching and other discomfort, resulting in reddening of the eyes," not to mention lung irritation.

Diapers can contain cancer-causing dioxin when the paper used to make them is bleached, though a 2002 U.S. study found that exposure through diapers is significantly less than through food, and not of great concern. They can also contain polyurethane, adhesives, inks used to create the cartoon images found on many disposable diapers, and lotions used to coat the diaper liner.Procter and Gamble denies Dry Max causes chemical burns. (Jennifer Kerr/Associated Press)

These lotions often include petrolatum, essentially the same substance as Vaseline, which has the potential to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cancer-causing chemicals found in crude oil, according to the U.S. Environmental Working Group.

Many disposables also add fragrance to their diapers to mask fecal odours or chemical odours, which in many cases contain phthalates, the class of chemicals known to disrupt the endrocrine system. That's the strong smell that diapers often give off when newly opened."

They say some other interesting things too, but I thought these were the main points. I knew diapers contained chemicals, but I didn't know that it was this bad! How can we be putting this stuff on our baby's skin? The skin is the largest organ, and absorbs anything we put on it. Makes you wonder if some of these chemicals are to blame for so many of the new problems and sicknesses that we have around now that were rarely present 30-40 years ago (back before disposables were invented!)

This makes me even more glad to be using cloth diapers. What about you? do you use cloth or disposable? what are your thoughts on the matter? Want to know more about cloth diapering? Feel free to email me! (marriedgirlblog(a)


T & T Crafts said...

one word - wow.

we use both, but mostly disposable because my husband gets grossed out with the cloth and if she has a big pee or naps in them we tend to find that she'll leak. i think we'll just have to put up with changing her more often (we should be anyways!) and use cloth as often as we can manage!

Nifty Nappy Cloth Diapers said...

I vote cloth! I love cloth diapers! I love to be able to make a great fitted with a wool cover that is so absorbent it is called "bullett proof"!

Priscilla said...

I would like to clarify that studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, have found that the levels in which consumers are exposed to are not high enough to cause health fears. Further, polystyrene has not been classified by any regulatory organization in the world to be a known human carcinogen.

Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC ( is a trade association that represents interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene.