If you’ve changed a super-absorbent disposable diaper within the last several years, you may have noticed a gel-like substance in the wet diaper. If it didn’t concern you, it should have. When a baby’s urine mixes with sodium polyacrylate, it turns into gel. This chemical is used in diapers to make them super-absorbent, but it’s no longer used in tampons because of the link between sodium polyacrylate and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Now are you concerned? Reports show a direct link between this chemical and severe diaper rash and bleeding of the perennial and scrotal tissue. Since it’s purpose is to absorb moisture, there have been cases where an infant’s delicate tissue is damaged as fluid is pulled directly from the skin.
The presence of sodium polyacrylate is not the only chemical in disposable diapers that raises red flags. Dioxin is a by-product of the bleaching used on disposables. It is a highly toxic chemical, as is Tributylin, which is showing up in some brands. TBT is a biocide, which is used to kill/prevent bacteria growth. So what’s the problem with that? Well, the World Health Organization has rated Tributylin as having one of the highest levels of toxicity in products used commercially.
These chemicals, along with others, are linked to the rise in cases of asthma. My baby doesn’t suffer from asthma and rarely has diaper rash, you may be thinking. What’s the big deal?
How about the link to infertility? Studies show an overall drop in sperm count into today’s males. Of course, that doesn’t concern you now, but how will you feel 25-30 years from now when your son and his wife are unable to conceive? German doctors determined that higher temperatures are experienced in one-time-use diapers over cloth diapers. In these early stages of sperm development, there is reason for concern. The rise in testicular cancer has also been linked to the use of disposable diapers. Just because you can’t see a problem with the use of disposable diapers doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Since there are no government controls on the chemicals used in disposables, it is up to parents to do their research and decide what’s best for the health of their baby. We really can’t predict what harm putting your child in these chemically-laden diapers will do over the course of his or her life. But just the thought of daily exposure to toxic chemicals like dioxin, Tributylin and sodium polyacrylate for 2 ½ - 3 ½ years is sickening.
Sure, it’s a matter of choice. But at least take the time to make an educated one.
Keeping it green,