Substances “with suspected or proven toxicity” were found in low numbers in the majority of diapers tested by the magazine 60 Million consumers, which calls for a “zero tolerance” for these compounds in baby products.
Irritant and neurotoxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene or styrene are present in nine of the products tested. The levels are below the regulatory thresholds, but these thresholds were defined in case of inhalation: “there is no risk assessment today for the case of diapers applied directly to the skin, all day” says Victoire N’Sondé, author of the survey.
Hydrocarbons, herbicide glyphosate, irritant and probable carcinogen
The brand, Carrefour diapers yet stamped “Eco Planet”, contains in addition to traces of the herbicide glyphosate, irritant and probable carcinogen, and toxic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), according to the magazine. Joined by Agence France Presse, Carrefour emphasized that all of its layers “scrupulously respect the regulations in force”.
The Pampers’ Baby Drys (Procter & Gamble brand), in turn, contain traces of two other pesticides classified as possible carcinogens, as well as dioxins and furans, suspected of disrupting the hormonal system, according to the analysis of 60 Millions of consumers.
Only two models did not include any of the substances sought: those of the private label E.Leclerc and the layers “Love & Green”, “only ecological layer of the test that succeeds his bet”.
The regulation does not oblige to display the composition of baby diapers
These substances are present “in the form of residues” and “below the thresholds set by the regulations”, when such thresholds exist. But, as infants are “particularly sensitive to toxic substances (…), the precautionary principle must prevail” and “any residue suspected of toxic risks must be removed from baby diapers,” argues the magazine, especially as babies are already exposed to these substances via their toys or diet.
“The good results of two brands in our sample show that this goal is achievable,” added 60 million consumers. The magazine also regrets that the regulations do not require to display the composition of layers, unlike cosmetics and toiletries.
Diapers are essentially composed of cellulose (a fiber from wood), a film and an absorbent gel made of plastic. Toxic substances could come from solvents and chemical processes used in manufacturing, products used to whiten cellulose or pesticides used to grow cereals from which the starch found in some models, the magazine says.
Already in 2016, the green diaper company Love and Green has had an independent laboratory test the composition of the layers Pampers, the highly copied leader of the market. The results, which we have been able to consult, reveal that these juvenile products contain PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Precisely benzo anthracene and chrysene, petroleum derivatives classified as carcinogenic by the European Union. Contacted Monday, the company Procter & Gamble, owner of Pampers, was not able to answer.
The magazine published by the National Institute of Consumption (INC) estimates that it is necessary to introduce specific regulations and stricter controls to ensure the safety of infants and the good information of consumers on the composition of products. “The labeling of raw materials and different ingredients must be mandatory on the layers,” recommends 60 million consumers .