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Welcome to Raising Califorina where you will be taken behind the scenes to peek at the lives of a Southern California family. You will have access to never before seen footage and exclusive interviews that will give you insight on what it is like to be a kid in California!


The Diaper Dilemma

Have you ever wondered what is in disposable diapers that makes them so absorbent? Have you ever seen the little gel like beads on your baby/toddlers bottom during a diaper change?

Better yet, have you ever seen a mess like this??

The above is a picture of a soaked diaper after being tossed from the second floor down to the first floor (also known as a diaper bomb)shown below:

After cleaning up this mess, I decided to find out what this stuff was made of and if it was safe to be next to my little boy's skin 24 hours a day for nearly three years. I found out more information regarding disposable diapers than just what the gel is made of...take a look.

According to an article in Mothering Magazine (Issue 88 May/June), this gel is made of Sodium Polyacrylate. This is a super-absorbent polymer that has never been tested to determine the effects of long term, continual exposure in humans. What effect does this have on the health of our children and their reproductive organs? We don't know because no one has cared enough to do studies to determine these effects. Here are some facts about Sodium Polyacrylate:

1. It exists in disposable diapers as a powder until it gets wet. This is when it turns into slushy/gel beads which can often be seen on your baby's skin during a diaper change.

2. This gel like substance can absorb 100x it's weight in liquid.

3. It has been implicated as one of the causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome

4. According to the Chemical and Theoretical Laboratory at Oxford University, it is listed as a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.

It is also used for:

Wire & Cable Waterblocking
Filtration Applications
Spill Control
Hot & Cold Therapy Packs
Composites & Laminates
Medical waste solidification
Mortuary pads
Motionless waterbeds
Diapers and Incontinence Garments
Waste Stabilization & Environmental Remediation
Fragrance carrier
Wound dressings
Fire protection
Surgical pads
Water retention for supplying water to plants
Controlled Release of Insecticides & Herbicides
Grow-In-Water toys
Magic tricks such as the 3 cup water monte

Source: Wikipedia

The ingredients of disposable diapers gets even better. Apparently, traditional dispodable diapers use chlorine gas to bleach diapers which produces dioxin, TBT and other dangerous chemicals.

The following is a list of chemicals found and/or emitted from disposable diapers and health implications for each:

* a carcinogen (causes cancer)
* EPA lists this as the most toxic of cancer causing chemicals
* Even in small quantities it causes birth defects, acne-like skin infections, disease and rashes, liver disease, immune system supression, genetic damage, reproductive, developmental and behavioral effects. Some sources list Dioxin as a possible cause for Autism and other Autism Spectrum disorders.
* Banned in most countries but not U.S.

My source? The internet. The information is out there. Knowledge is power. Check out these links:

The Diaper Hyena

Environmental Research Foundation

Dangers of Dioxin Exposure: Absorption Through the Skin

Chemical Body Burden

TBT (Tributyltin)

* highly toxic
* spreads through the skin
* supresses the immune system
* causes secondary infections (as a result of suppressed immunne system)
* impairs the hormonal and reproductive systems
* may cause sterility in boys

(Sources: Wikipedia and the Diaper Hyena)

Tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and isopropylbenzene

A study conducted in 1999 called "Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions" concluded that the chemicals within diapers caused eye, nose and throat irritation in addition to asthma-like symtpoms including decreased lung capacity. Mice were exposed to a diaper from six leading disposable and cotton diaper brands. Within one hour, all of the disposable diapers(except for one brand) caused eye, nose and throat irritation AND bronchoconstriction similar to an asthma attack. Repeat exposures after 6 and 24 hours caused the negative symptoms to more than double and in some cases quadruple. The authors of this study concluded that there is a link between disposable diapers and asthma and urged further research into this matter.

I found this info on WebMD and Mothering Magazine.

California has had a rash since the beginning of January. It wasn't a diaper rash, but more of an allergic acne-like rash. As soon as I switched to diapers that were chlorine free and gel free, the rash miraculously disappeared within two or three days. He has also been hospitalized with Severe Asthma on three separate occasions...so this is another reason why I felt that he needed chemical free diapers.

Go to these sites to see some choices for chlorine and gel free diapers:
Nature Babycare
Modern Wife
Tender Care Diapers
Seventh Generation Diapers
Tushies are the only chlorine free/gel free diaper in the world.

I alternate Tushies during the day with Seventh Generation diapers at night for extra absorbency. *UPDATE 7/11/08 - I use Nature Babycare! You can buy these at Target You can buy most of the other brands of diapers at Whole Foods and Wild Oats or order them online. They really aren't more expensive and it is better to be safe than sorry. It is also better for the environment which is an entirely different issue...it isn't as green as using cloth diapers but it is better than using diapers made with chemicals that leach into our drinking water from landfills...the same water that your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will drink someday.


bird said...

this information has been so helpful. I am changing as soon as i can get out shopping. i've felt awful about having those diapers on my daughter since the very beginning, but cloth diapers is something i'm having a hard time working myself up to. at least this is a step in the right direction!

Conor Keller said...

Thanks for posting this information. I'm going to show it to my wife so I can convince her to use gDiapers full time!

http://www.gdiapers.com/ - are a great alternative to the disposable diaper. They are about 5-10 cents more than usual, but seem well worth it in the end.

Thanks again!

prelude619 said...

I had heard something about the chimicals in diapers. being that I just bought a new box of diapers for my son that's just going to motivate me to potty train him quicker. Nothing is ever safe in this world anymore.

L.A. Mama said...

Bird - You're so very welcome!

Conor - Good luck and thanks for the info about the gDiapers! I will add it to the list.

Mario - Good luck with the potty training! I hope that the diapers that I switched to will help C want to go to the potty sooner since they aren't as comfortable as the ones that keep him dier longer...:)