Thursday, April 19, 2012

Real Diaper Week - Day 4 / Xylene, Dioxins, and TBT...Oh My!


One of the facts that shock many people who inquire about why I chose to cloth diaper my child was that not only do disposable diapers contain dioxin, which has been linked to cancer, but also the fact that babies can inhale the toxic fumes.

You know that strong smell that smacks you in the face upon opening a pack of disposable diapers? One of the culprits would be known as xylene, a flammable liquid that is used in paints and cleaners. Xylene is only one of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs - the others are ethylbenzene, toluene, and dipentene) that with prolonged exposure, can lead to eye irritation, respiratory problems, headache, damage to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, and can also be attributed to cancer.

Here is a list of other chemicals that can be found in a disposable diaper :

* Dioxins - The byproduct of the bleaching process with chlorine. Dioxin is one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known by the EPA. Exposure to this harmful chemical can not only lead to diaper rash, but like the VOC's, can impair the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system, and liver function.

* Sodium polycarbonate - This is the chemical that is mixed with cellulose and polyacrylate crystals to create that gel like subtance in diapers. Sodium polycarbonate has only been used in disposables for the last 20 years, and is only "thought" to be linked to respiratory problems. However, this substance is no longer used in tampons because of it's link to Toxic Shock Syndrome because of its ability to allow the tampon to become a breeding ground for bacteria.

* Tributyl-tin (TBT) - A highly toxic pollutant that does not degrade and has been found by the EPA to cause hormonal problems in aquatic life. The American Institute of Biological Sciences conducted a study and found that TBT increases the growth of fats cells, which can lead to obesity. In addition, the Archives of Disease in Childhood concluded that this chemical increased scrotal temperature in boys, which impairs physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis

Of course, let us not forget that some diapers also include fragrances and dyes.

If you are considering the switch to cloth, and have additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask! Use the comment section below or feel free to e-mail me at

- Alanna

Don't forget to register to participate in The Great Cloth Diaper Change this Saturday, April 1st, 2012! For event locations and further information, please click on the picture below. Join thousands of others to help break a world record by changing the most cloth diapers at a time!

Join the Real Diaper Week blog hop and/or read other blog posts below about diaper health and cloth diapering in hospitals and daycare!


  1. yikes! I'm so glad that my baby is in cloth.

  2. oh my goodness! That just makes me love cloth even more

  3. Another great reason to cloth diaper!

  4. Yuck! These chemicals sound aweful!!! Gross!!! Glad I use cloth!

  5. I first started using cloth to save money. When I found out about all the nasty chemicals in disposables I was so glad that we had switched.


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