The Real “Waste” In Disposable Diapers, Part 2

by-Amanda Hammond, Ready or Not- A Baby Planning Service

Dioxins

Your average disposable diaper is that crisp white color because it is bleached with chlorine.  The byproducts of this process are chemicals called dioxins.  Dioxin exposure can, at the very least, cause skin reactions.  At the worst, these chemicals disrupt our body systems and organ functions causing diseases.  And then… the very worst: There are red flags being raised by the Environmental Working Group that dioxins are potential carcinogens.

Because the long-term effects of chlorine and chlorine byproducts like dioxins are impossible to study with 100% accuracy, evidence derived from studies is regarded by most as being inconclusive.   We are exposed to dioxins in the air we breathe and the food we eat, so any additional exposure of products containing dioxins is difficult to test.  In addition it is unethical to test infants by exposing them to higher amounts of toxins intentionally, so there is a huge lack of data available on the effects of dioxin exposure on babies.  This is why the EPA decided that dioxin exposure from diapers, while valid, is far less than what they take in from other sources like breathed air and breast milk.  While I have no doubt that is the truth, I am concerned by the implications of their conclusion— that diapers are therefore safe no changes need to be made.  I think most of us would prefer NOT to add to the level of toxins in our babies’ bodies. 

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is working with the government to correct the idea that children are just “little adults,” stating that it is not wise or accurate to calculate a child’s exposure level based on an adult’s.  Many times this is how chemicals are deemed safe for children.  “Pound for pound, children eat more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults do (CEHN).”  This is made worse by the fact babies are not as able to rid their bodies of toxins as we are.  These factors aren’t taken into account during studies making them quite misleading. 

Babies’ body systems are immature.  They aren’t equipped to deal with the all the toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis.  And we shouldn’t expect them to be. Thankfully they are wondrously adaptable and most times can get by just fine.  The question is, how hard do we want to make them work to grow into healthy children and eventually healthy adults?  Is the convenience of disposable diapers worth the risk?

You can take action by, at the very least, switching to a chlorine-free diaper and baby wipe.  Better yet, learn to go cloth.  There are workshops all over the place to teach you and it’s never been easier to put your little one in a nice comfy cloth diaper.  I do both.  Find what works for you.  Any improvement you can make will be to your baby’s advantage… and the environments’.

 

 

 

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