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Disposable Diaper Emissions

Disposable Diaper Emissions

Prevalence of childhood asthma has increased approximately three-fold during the past several decades. We report here several types of acute respiratory toxicity in mice breathing airborne emissions of certain brands of disposable diapers.

Epidemiologists have found links between asthma symptoms and the presence of wall-to-wall carpeting, recent interior painting, and formaldehyde and limonene concentrations in homes. We have reported asthma-like reactions to emissions of air fresheners, colognes, fabric softeners, and waterproof mattress covers. Certain brands of disposable diapers also pose problems.


  • Three brands of disposable diapers and one brand of cloth diapers were purchased in retail stores. All diapers were stored in their original packages in an exhaust hood. Mice breathed emissions of these three brands of disposable diapers.
  • Measurements of breathing patterns showed various combinations of irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; irritation of lungs; and decreased airflow as in an asthmatic attack.
  • Mice exposed to cloth diapers did not show these problems.
    The results demonstrate that some types of disposable diapers emit mixtures of chemicals that are toxic to the respiratory tract. Disposable diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions.

We have recently found some brands of diapers which do not harm our mice. For brand names click here.

Read more: Home, Babies, Health & Safety

Copyright (c) Rosaland C. Anderson and Julius H. Anderson.
by Rosalind C. Anderson and Julius H. Anderson of Anderson Laboratories.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

15 comments

+ add your own
7:34AM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

Noted!

12:55AM PDT on Mar 19, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:09PM PST on Feb 22, 2011

Please check out this cloth diaper photo journalism project I am trying to launch! http://kck.st/hvm3LT

12:42PM PST on Jan 12, 2011

Don't we already know enough about many of these toxins to understand they are dangerous?

5:29AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

To all of you bleeding hearts who don't want testing on the "poor little RATS!" I would rather they start testing on varmites than on your baby. Based on your ignorance, the tissue of mice and pigs are very close to human tissue. I am all for cloth diapers as well. Who needs all that plastic in the landfills, but please stop putting down innovation through testing. Of course, you could volunteer for phase one testing yourself, and see if your lungs develop an anaphylatic reaction?

3:38PM PST on Dec 12, 2010

Thanks, Heather A! Well said!

Message to corporate and educational America: Stop with the mice experiments already! Poor little things stuck in tiny boxes so you can do experiments that might or might not mean something. You suck!

10:53AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Really? Mice? That's the crudest way of testing for lung irritants in diapers that I can imagine, and the result of the test is therefore probably equally unreliable. All we know from that is that there's something in diapers that makes mice wheeze. They haven't identified the irritants, or determined whether they affect human babies, two things that are actually relevant and that tests on mice cannot tell us.

If I have a baby, I'll definitely go the cloth route. It's only a small step up from my reusable menstrual products.

1:16PM PST on Nov 29, 2010

I agree.

7:07AM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

I too am interested in the brands, but the link appears to be broken. Have the diaper companies sicced their copious legal dogs upon the scientists? I would very much like a working link to the brands, please. It's true we should really all go cloth, but most of us can't afford the initial outlay of cost. We do want to do right by our children, however, so it would be nice to know which brands did not elicit these symptoms.

7:19AM PDT on Apr 4, 2010

Where are the brand names?Clicked on the link-nothing!

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