You know what’s scarier than knowing, not knowing.
This past week, a French Government Agency (ANSES), released a study indicating that of 23 diaper brands between 2016 – 2018 there were trace amounts of chemicals present in the diapers, some of them at rates higher than recommended for regular use of these products.
- The original study is in French, so unless you can translate it’s hard to understand. I felt this article from Chemical Watch provided the best synopsis that is in line with the major outlets were saying.
Basically, everything we suspect, confirmed. This is the first study to suggest that these levels may pose some sort of potential risk. In the past few years, there have been other studies such as one out of Switzerland and one out of Korea which concluded less startling results.
What’s always bothered me about disposable diapers is the lack of transparency and disclosure about the product. Actually, that bothers me about cloth diapers too; that there are some cloth diapers that don’t disclose or tell us what’s in them or how they are made. I’m a strong advocate for shopping with a business that tell their story, meet safety testing, and provide quality product crafted in fair working conditions both here and abroad.
We constantly see flawed cradle to grave studies on cloth diapering that emphasis how cotton manufacturing is terrible for the environment, that shipping them from China is terrible for the environment, and that using absorbent amounts of water and electricity to wash them is terrible for the environment.
We rarely ever see thorough cradle to grave studies on disposable diapering that show us where the resources for the product comes from, how it’s turned into a diaper, and how that process might impact the environment (Hello, where is my Erin Brokovich when I need her?), and what that looks like in the household and as it ends up in local landfills – if there’s a local landfill.
Back in 2017, Jenn Labit tried to open up this conversation with the #igettoknow. Turns out, everyone was terrified of disposable diaper brands and that story didn’t go anywhere. Even recent posts about the French study kind of show that people are apathetic about the things they put against their baby (which surprises me in a world of infertility, and obsession with knowing all the ingredients and ditching synthetics for essential oils), or the big bad world is set out to keep this conversation to the back pages of the internet. I suspect this post will die there too.
We should know about the chemicals that go into all of our diapers: cloth or disposable. We should know about how that impacts the environment, and make informed and educated decisions based on truths.
Right now, it’s incredibly hard to do that. I’m writing this post because I’ve spent hours scouring the internet trying to learn about disposable diaper manufacturing and use, but there’s nothing. This is a product we assume is safe. This is a product that reduced the diaper rash coming out of the early twentieth century and was assumed to be a game changer in the health of our babies. However, like many things how do you control for diaper use and topics like fertility in men and women, sexual pain, or other things. You just blame it on something else, right? So much has changed in 40-50 years, but the convenience will trump everything and we’ll just try to be better elsewhere.
There are cloth diaper brands working on being more transparent and sharing with you there story both here and there. However, disposable diaper side of the story seems a little less inclined. It’s in this silence that we should be scared.
When I think about disposable diapers or disposable sanitary pads, I think about how ingenious of a marketing scheme it is over the past decades to convince the entire population to adapt to something that is inevitably unknown. Today, we scoff at the tobacco industry; when will we be side eyeing the disposable diaper industry?