Nearly two dozen samples of disposable diapers contain trace levels of some 60 dangerous chemicals, according to the first study of its kind.
The research, conducted in France, points to traces of chemicals, some of which have been banned in the country for over a decade, as well as traces of the controversial herbicide glyphosate, best known as Monsanto's Roundup.
The agrochemical used predominantly on genetically modified crops has been linked to numerous health issues including metabolic disorders and certain types of cancer. Last year, in the first ruling of its kind, a California court found Monsanto's Roundup to be responsible for a groundskeeper's cancer. The World Health Organization has linked the chemical to cancer despite rebuts from manufacturers.
Other substances, including chemicals common in cigarette smoke and diesel fumes, were also discovered, the report notes.
Now, French ministers are pressuring diaper manufacturers to create a "plan of action" within the next 15 days for removal of the potentially harmful chemicals.
The researchers tested 23 different diapers between 2016 and 2018 -- none of the brands or products were named specifically in the 206-page report -- but are all considered to be well-known brands in France and around the world. According to the findings by Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, some of the products marketed as "ecological" contained harmful substances.
And the agency said the chemicals posed significant threats to babies as the chemicals could "migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin”. The researchers also called out the use of "intentional" chemicals such as perfumes that can contain phthalates, known endocrine disruptors.
Based on the research, some babies could be exposed to excessive levels of the chemicals when accounted for the number of disposable diapers used by the age of three.
“Our [diapers] are safe and always have been,” Pampers said in a statement responding to the report. “Our products do not contain any of the allergens listed by the European Union.”
The report says it is "not possible" to exclude health risks linked to disposable diapers and recommended that consumers eliminate or minimize the use, opting instead whenever possible for cloth diapers washed in natural detergents.
“There is no epidemiological research allowing us to prove the health effects linked to the wearing of [diapers]," the report noted. "That said, dangerous chemical substances have been found in the [diapers] … there is evidence the safety thresholds for several substances have been crossed."
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