Study finds toxic in baby diapers

The presence of toxic phthalates in disposable baby nappies in the Indian markets has raised concerns since it has health implications as well as environmental concerns.

A new study titled, ‘What’s in the Diaper: Presence of Phthalates in Baby Diapers’ conducted by Toxics Link, a Delhi-based advocacy organisation Toxics Link has found Phthalates- endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)- in diapers and exposure to them to cause serious health impairments including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and reproductive disorders.

Alka Dubey, Programme Coordinator at Toxics Link, told DC that they studied 20 diaper samples were randomly collected from cities across the country and they were analysed in an NABL-accredited laboratory in New Delhi.

The analysis found high levels of phthalates ranging from 2.36ppm to 302.25ppm. The DEHP is the most toxic phthalate and is restricted or banned in several children products but was found between 2.36ppm to 264.94 ppm in the tested samples,” she said.

Dubey also said that they would bring the findings to notice of the concerned department in the government to bring up proper guidelines to manufacture diapers. None of the manufacturers of the tested samples have displayed the ingredients and chemicals used for making the diapers. Manufacturers need to look into the issue and refrain from adding phthalates in diapers considering their health implications as well as environmental concerns.  We have been focusing on the Chemical ingredients in baby products for the last two decades. That is why we pick up the matter for the study. In a similar study we conducted in feeding bottles in 2014 had found presence of toxic BPA. Following which, the government had come up with guidelines in manufacturing feeding bottles’, she said.  

Piyush Mohapatra, Senior Programme Coordinator at Toxics Link stressed that it was the first-of-its-kind study in India. Globally efforts have been made to phase out phthalates from various products and most importantly from children’s products. India has also set the standards for five common phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DIDP, DNOP and DINP) in various children’s products. However, there is no such regulation in place for baby diapers in our country.  Some countries though have put restrictions on use of phthalates in baby diapers’, he said.

Generally phthalates are non-covalently bound to polymers used in diapers; they are easily released from the diapers. As a diaper is in direct contact with the external genitals of infants and toddlers for several months to years, there is a possibility that phthalates can enter the bodies of babies through dermal absorption and can cause adverse health impacts on the children. There are scientific studies that confirmed the dermal absorption of phthalates from the diapers. These chemicals can leach out in the municipal waste stream and can pose serious challenges into the environment as well’, says the study


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