Disposable Diapers

by JASON | 6:08 PM in |

The Online Drama of Disposable versus Cloth Diapers (Nappies)
By: Heather L. Sanders

You would think that all the above information would be enough for a final decision, but it really didn't 'seal' the issue for me. I'm thinking, "Okay, but STILL disposables are more convenient (We are often willing to PAY for convenience, right?) and I can always change them more often to avoid rashes." Well, the health issues are absolutely threatening for our children - and this is where my resistance to cloth diapering 'gave in.'

Let's talk about our children's health and the mounting evidence about the synthetic chemicals and their by-products that can be found in disposable diapers. Below are some defining characteristics of the chemicals 'known' for their acute and chronic effects that we put against our baby's skin. And I say 'known,' because so many of our man-made chemicals and their by-products HAVE NOT been studied - and we are all aware that what we don't know CAN hurt us/our children. Whether or not some of the information is speculative should not allow us to dismiss the possibilities. My children are NOT guinea pigs for the next generation. I'll lean to the conservative side!

SODIUM POLYACRYLATE - This is the chemical, added in powder form to the inner pad of a disposable, that makes it super-absorbent. When the powdered form becomes wet, it turns into a gel. THESE ARE THE 'SHINY GEL-LIKE CRYSTALS' I FOUND ON MY DAUGHTER'S 'PRIVATES' WHEN CHANGING HER.

*Refer to 'Sources' at the end of Scene 3 for corresponding references.*

* It can absorb up to 100X its weight in water (1).

* It can stick to baby's genitals, causing allergic reactions (2).

* Reported to cause severe skin irritations, oozing blood from perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting and staph infections in babies (2).

* When injected into rats it has caused hemorrhage, cardiovascular failure and death (4).

* Banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome (1).

* Has killed children after ingesting as little as 5 grams of it (5).

* Causes female organ problems, slows healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss to the employees in factories that manufacture it (6).

DIOXIN - This is the chemical by-product of the paper-bleaching process, using chlorine gas, in the manufacturing of diapers.


*Refer to 'Sources' at the end of Scene 3 for corresponding references.*

* It is a carcinogenic ~ cancer-causing chemical (3).

* The EPA lists it as the MOST TOXIC of all cancer-linked chemicals(7).

* In small quantities it causes birth defects, skin/liver disease, immune system suppression & genetic damage in lab animals (2),(5).

* Banned in most countries, but not the United States (6).

What is the problem with CHLORINE? Diaper

"The pulp and paper industry's practice of bleaching pulp 'whiter than white' with chlorine produces a large class of chemicals known as organochlorines, some extremely persistent and toxic, which include the infamous dioxins and furans."
". . . their effects are particularly threatening to the most vulnerable of us all: developing infants and children."

Source: Liz Armstrong & Adrienne Scott: "Whitewash; Exposing the health and environmental dangers of women's sanitary products and disposable diapers - what you can do about it."

TRIBUTYL TIN (TBT) - An environmental pollutant, considered highly toxic, that spreads through the skin and has a hormone-like effect in the smallest concentrations.

* It harms the immune system and impairs the hormonal system (3,6)

* Speculated that it could cause sterility in boys (6).

To Dye For?

"Damage to CNS (Central Nervous System), kidneys and liver can be caused by dyes found in some disposables."

Source: "Diapers. Disposable or Cotton?," Ginny Caldwell.


(1). McConnell, Jane. "The Joy of Cloth Diapers."

(2). Caldwell, Ginny. "Diapers. Disposable or Cotton?," Eco-Baby Catalogue www.ecobaby.com.

(3). "New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Procter & Gamble's Pampers®: Greenpeace Demands World-Wide Ban of Organotins in All Products," 15 May 2000, www.diapersafari.com.

(4). Allison, Cathy. "Disposable Diapers: Potential Health Hazards.," referring to: Hicks, R et al. "Characterization of toxicity involving hemorrhage and cardiovascular failure, caused by parenteral administration of a soluble polyacrylate in the rat," J Appl. Toxicol. 1989 June; 9(3): 191-8.

(5). Peggy's Diapers, Slings N' Things, www.peggysdiapers.com.

(6). "Why Cloth Diapers?," www.diapersafari.com.

(7). "The Poop on Diapers.," www.slonet.org/~scoward/poop.html.