Cloth Dipering: Health & Information
Have you ever considered what disposables are made of? How did they get to be so white? How do they manage to absorb so much? Disposables are made mostly of soft, fluffy pulp which is produced by chemically treating wood fibers. The pulp undergoes a whitening and softening process when it is exposed to chlorine-based bleaching agents, such as chlorine gas and chlorine dioxide. These papermaking methods produce a multitude of toxic chemical by-products which are released into the environment during manufacturing. During the manufacturing process, substances called organochlorides are produced. These are dangerous unwanted by-products. They are found in large quantities in wastewater released into the environment, and they remain in minute quantities in the paper fluff itself.
One of the most well known organochlorides is the dioxin group. Dioxin has been called the most toxic substance ever produced and has been associated with birth defects, miscarriage, cancer and genetic damage. No one knows exactly how much exposure to dioxin is required for disease to develop. It is toxic in very small amounts.
Another chemical that simply should not be in a baby's diaper is called sodium polyacrylate. This substance is found in the fluff layer of the disposable and turns your baby's urine into gel. Sodium polyacrylate can absorb 100 times its weight in liquid. It makes for a very absorbent diaper, but has been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome in tampon use. In the past, use of this chemical has been associated with severe diaper rash and bleeding perennial and scrotal tissue, because it pulls fluid so strongly that it excoriates human tissue. No neutral long term study of any kind has been done to assess the affect over time, of contact of this substance with vulnerable genital tissue.
In contrast, a few dozen cloth diapers when compared to 5,000 disposables during one child's diapering years represent a safe and responsible alternative to your child's health.
Environment ~ Time For a Change!
We make choices in everything we buy. Virtually every product we purchase has some impact on the environment. We need to determine which alternatives are less harmful and choose to use these products and practices whenever possible.
It is the cumulative effect of all our seemingly insignificant choices that has led us to our "drawing on the capital" rather than "living off the interest" of our earth's resources. Disposable diapers represent one of many common choices in our society that needs to be re-evaluated in the light of environmental concerns. Do we drive to the park or ride our bikes? Do we take juice boxes or a jug of water? Do we put the clothes in the dryer or hang them out to dry.
From birth to toilet training each child will use approximately 5,300 disposable diapers. It takes 440-880 lbs. of fluff pulp and 286 lbs. of plastic (including packaging) per year to supply a single baby with disposables. They are the 3rd largest single product in the waste stream behind newspapers and beverage containers. In areas where paper, glass, tin cans etc. are collected for recycling, diapers make up an even larger portion of the garbage.
Landfill sites do not provide the conditions necessary for diapers to decompose. They are in effect "mummified" and retain their original weight volume and form. Human feces can contain harmful pathogens (for example, babies who have been vaccinated for polio will excrete poliovirus) when feces is discarded with disposable diapers there is potential for public exposure (via rodents, pets, flies or birds).
Single use disposable diapers use 37% more water than home laundered. Disposables appear to produce less sewage because in them, human waste goes to dump sites. This practice violates World Health Organization guidelines and is technically illegal. Washing cloth diapers at home uses 50-70 gal. of water every three days. For perspective, a toilet-trained person, flushing the toilet 5-6 times a day, also uses 70 gal. of water every three days. Wastewater from washing cloth diapers is relatively benign while the wastewater from pulp, paper and plastics contain solvents, sludge, heavy metals, unreacted polymers, dioxins and furans. The potential environmental impacts of the disposal of these materials are considerable. Although cloth diaper use also emits air pollution, the air pollution from the manufacture of disposables is far more noxious. Pulp bleaching emits dioxins and furans into the air, as does incineration. Incineration often produces toxic air emissions and toxic ash.
In Canada and the US >20,000,000,000 disposables are discarded into landfill sites each year!!! Being informed and including environmental considerations into our decision making is essential to preserving a healthy earth for future generations.
(Excerpted from www.mothering.com)
Dawnella Sutton ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ www.FreedomPondMoonworks.com ~ 207-382-3126