Written by Caroline Meyer
Extra care needs to be taken when you purchase disposable nappies for your little ones. Some nappies have been found to contain hazardous chemicals. These can actually come into contact with your babies’ skin when the nappy is wet. Some of these chemicals may be in the nappies due to contaminated raw materials while others are intentionally added during manufacture or accidently included during the process. Some of these chemicals are allowed, but in low levels that are deemed safe. Not all manufacturers ensure that the limits are being upheld and that there is no contamination. Some of the chemicals found in disposable nappies include Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl methylpropional, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, furans, PCB-12 and DL-PCBs as well as glyphosate which is used in herbicides. Most of these hazardous chemicals are introduced in the fragrances added into the disposable nappies.
Some of these chemicals such as dioxin are known to cause skin damage, liver disease and may also be a cancer-causing agent. The substance is linked to birth defects in test animals. Sodium polyacrylate gel that is used in many disposable nappy brands to absorb moisture is linked to toxic shock syndrome when used in tampons, so why is it still being used in nappies? The product has also been linked to severe nappy rash and damage to the perineal and scrotal tissue.
The substance Tributyltin (TBT) is used by some disposable nappy brands to kill bacteria is an extremely toxic substance which can actually disrupt hormone function and impair the immune system and is considered a major environmental polluter. Certain manufacturers have been called out on their use of this substance, but to date, no evidence has been shown that they have ceased to use the substance in their product.
Some of the chemical emissions from disposable diapers have been shown to have an adverse effect on test animals when inhaled. The effects were immediate and the animals had problems breathing. This effect has not been tested on humans at this point, but with the increase in asthma in the general population, it may pay to be safe instead of sorry.
Besides chemical contamination, disposable nappies have also been shown to keep scrotal temperature too high in boy babies. This may hamper their sperm production later on in life. Testicular health and function can be improved by wearing cloth nappies instead of disposables.
There are many alternatives to the disposable diaper including shaped cloth diapers and pull-ups which may be healthier and safer for your little one. Do your research on the various brands before you purchase to ensure that the nappies do not contain hazardous chemicals and that adequate controls are in place to ensure there is no accidental contamination during the manufacturing process. If you do use disposable nappies, make sure that you dispose of them according to manufacturer’s guidelines to try and reduce their impact on the environment. Hopefully a lot more research will go into the field of disposable nappies in the future so that we can have the convenience without health risks or environmental contamination. Check out the various options before deciding on the best alternative for your precious bundle of joy.