About the Dangers of Disposable Diapers

Welcome to the first installment of my Did You Know… series, in my “Going Green Express” category.  In this series I will be collecting information from around the web by researching different sites which have already done all of the hard work for me.  I will always include links to all areas of interest so you can read the complete article for yourself if you would like. Though I do trust the blogging community, I also realize a lot of blogs are based on a persons beliefs and perspective of things, so I will be doing my research by visiting reputable sites outside of the blogging world when possible.

We have always heard, “knowledge is power” and I do believe this is true. Of course I also have come to realize over the years, sometimes it would be best if we could un-learn knowledge we have obtained. Today’s post is no exception, as we will be discussing the dangers of disposable diapers. Those are the exact words I used in GOOGLE SEARCH when I began my research for this article – try it if you would like, but be warned the information you will find is quite alarming.

I am going to start with disposable diapers because I have just made the switch to cloth – a bit late in my toddlers life I might add.  I have been chasing a diaper rash for quite some time now; it will clear up almost completely and then the next morning his little bottom will be beet- red again.  I have cut out using wipes, to using natural, scent- free soaps and water on a soft cloth.  I have changed bathing soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and lotions. I have switched out diaper rash creams more times than I can count.  I have borrowed breast milk, purchased all natural products and as stated above changed to cloth diapers from disposable.  I have bathed him daily, let him run naked and cried with joy thinking something has finally worked, only to scream in anger internally the next day when his little bottom became inflamed again. I have tried everything under the sun, except for the steroid cream the doctors gave me which “can cause sterilization, stunt growth and/or cause thinning of the blood vessels”. (WHAT??) I am working on potty training him, but he still shows no interest in going on his own and at times will cry uncontrollably when I put him on his tiny commode. If I hear the words, “He should already be potty trained at his age” one more time, I may scream!  After researching disposable diapers, (I had already made the change to cloth before this), I have to wonder why I had not done so earlier and therefore would have made the switch to cloth sooner. To all of you new and expecting Momma’s out there – trust this old dog who has just learned a new trick, cloth diapers are the only way to go. If this article does not convince you, nothing will.

DISTURBING FACTS ABOUT DISPOSABLE DIAPERS

  • In 2009, Americans dumped nearly 4 million tons of disposable diapers into landfills.
  • Diaper companies are self-regulated. This simply means diaper companies are responsible for ensuring their products are safe.
  • Because diaper companies are self-regulated, they are not required to list all of the ingredients, chemicals, glues, etc. which are used in developing their products.

    English: diaper pile

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Andersen Laboratories published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999 showed diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity. (These emissions did NOT come from dirty diapers mind you – just the diaper themselves.) It was also noted that xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins. Styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin were also visible in emissions.
  • Diapers contain a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants. Some of these ingredients can cause irritation.
  • Most disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which is a super-absorbant gelling material. The safety data sheet for sodium polyacrylate 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.”
  • When the papers used to make diapers are bleached, they can contain cancer-causing dioxin.
  • Diapers also contain polyurethane, adhesives, inks and lotions.
  • The lotions used to coat the diaper linings contains the same substance found in Vaseline, which has the potential to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH‘s.
  • PAH’s are cancer causing chemicals found in crude oil.
  • The fragrance agents used in many diapers to hide the smell of fecal order contains phthalates, which is a class of chemicals known to disrupt the endocrine system.
  • It takes five hundred and fifty years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

Now I do not know about you, but I find it quite alarming to learn diaper companies do not have a babysitter ensuring their products are not harmful to our Little Angels, not to mention the fact they are not required by law to list the chemicals and materials used in making them. Cancer-causing dioxins? PAH’s found in crude oil are also present in diapers? Sodium polyacrylate, a respiratory tract irritant? And let us not forget the potential damage to the endocrine system. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes. With all of these potential health risks I am genuinely surprised disposable diapers are even legal. I am unsure how they can state these diapers take five hundred and fifty years to decompose, given the fact they have yet to be around for this long. However, it still leaves me shocked knowing the diapers I put on my daughters bottom some twenty years ago are still sitting in a landfill somewhere in Houston, Texas. Can you say, “DISTURBING”?

Information for this article was found while researching the following sites.

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2 comments on “About the Dangers of Disposable Diapers

  1. I had intended to use cloth diapers 99% of the time with my daughter and disposables that other 1%. Somewhere along the way, those percentages became reversed…probably because I’m exhausted and cloth requires just a tad more effort. This blog has made me realize I need to reverse the percentages again….and perhaps get rid of the Pampers all together. So gross. And yes, disturbing is an understatement.

    • Thanks for fluttering over to ready, “About the Dangers of Disposable Diapers”. I do apologize for taking so long to get back with you but I have been on vacation. I was completely floored as I researched the dangers and find it hard to understand how and why diaper companies have been able to work continuously unsupervised for years. Here’s hoping you are sucessful with the switch over this time around. 🙂

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