How Chemical Phthalates are Endangering Women and Infants

Chemical phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are showing up in extremely frightening places: diapers and sanitary pads.

I’ve blogged about phthalates before.  These chemicals are found in many consumer products, including cosmetics and packaging.  But these chemicals can interfere with hormone production, causing genital birth defects and behavioral problems.  Pregnant women and young children are especially at risk.

That last point is key.

An international team of scientists has just determined that sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products.

“Sanitary pads and diapers are made of synthetic plastic materials that can potentially be released while being used,” the researchers write.  “As sanitary pads and diapers are in direct contact with external genitalia for an extended period, there is a probability that a considerable amount of VOCs or phthalates could be absorbed into the reproductive system.”

VOC contents were measured using an Agilent GC/MS system and MassHunter software.  Phthalates were analyzed and measured using an Agilent HPLC system with a degasser, autosampler and binary pump.

The safety of sanitary pads or diapers is becoming a worldwide public health concern, with growing suspicions that some substances in those products may adversely influence the health of women and children.

But because diapers are not considered “medical devices,” they are not subject to medical or safety testing by regulatory agencies.

I don’t even know what advice to offer here.  Most women of reproductive age use sanitary pads during their menstrual periods for an average of 1,800 days in their lifetime.  Similarly, the diaper is a hygiene product that is in direct contact with the external genitalia of infants and toddlers for several months to years.

Be careful, everyone.

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