Dangerous Chemicals In Disposable Nappies

Dangerous Chemicals In Disposable Nappies

France’s national health agency has found dangerous levels of chemicals in disposable nappies.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) tested a number of popular brands between 2016 and 2018 .

The tests found safety thresholds on certain chemicals weren’t followed.

This is thought to be the first investigation of its kind.

ANSES has called for the nappy industry to eliminate or reduce the levels of these chemicals in disposable nappies. The concern is they could pose a risk to infant health.

The health agency also recommends a stricter monitoring policy. They want to ensure the chemical safety thresholds are followed.

According to ANSES, baby use approximately 4,000 nappies in their lifetime. The majority of babies wear single-use nappies rather than the more environmentally-friendly washable alternatives.

What Did The Tests Find?

The researchers detected a number of hazardous chemicals in disposable nappies. Chemicals can migrate through urine and make prolonged contact with babies’ skin.

Manufacturers intentionally added some of these chemicals. Some had come from contaminated raw materials. Others were introduced in the manufacturing process.

Researchers tested the levels of these chemicals to determine whether safety thresholds were being upheld. They concluded that, under realistic conditions of use, some of the chemicals could pose a risk to infant health.

The chemicals in question included:

  • Butylphenyl methylpropional
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde
  • Certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • PCB-126
  • All the DL-PCBs, dioxins and furans.

The agency’s report also listed glyphosate, but at lower levels than the above chemicals. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in well-known herbicides. One is Roundup, also marketed under other brand names. Glyphosate is due to be banned for sale in France in 2021.

ANSES is calling for fast action. They particularly want nappy manufacturers to stop using all fragrances.They account for some of the hazardous chemicals listed.

They also want to improve industry-wide control of the sources of natural raw materials. This will reduce contamination. They also call for improved manufacturing processes for disposable nappies. 

ANSES has requested industry experts come together to develop a plan. The aim is to reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals in disposable nappies.

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Fiona Peacock CONTRIBUTOR

Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


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