In your search for your ideal diapers, you are probably looking for the cleanest, purest and most effective diapers out there, right? You may have seen a variety of acronyms and claims used among various brands, including TCF, which stands for "totally chlorine free". If you're wondering why chlorine is even used in some diapers, whether chlorine in diapers is bad for babies and why you might want to stay away from it, we will be exploring all that, and more in this blog post.
Chlorine In Diapers
Chlorine is typically used in diapers and sanitary products to “purify” and bleach the absorbent pulp so that it looks clean, white and fluffy. Because pure white is often associated with purity and cleanliness, diaper brands may use chlorine to whiten diaper material.
Why is Chlorine in Diapers a Problem?
1. Exposure to dioxins
Using chlorine in the processing of diapers leaves behind a toxic residue that can cause a variety of negative outcomes for your child's health, your health and the environment.
One of the primary toxins results as a by-product of chlorine bleaching and other industrial processes; dioxins. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), continued exposure to dioxins can harm our children's reproductive and immune systems, alter liver function, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer. They can also cause developmental problems and delays. Dioxins are stored in fatty tissue and are therefore extremely difficult to eliminate from the body, commonly remaining for 7-11 years after exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that dioxins are a likely human carcinogen and “persistent, bio accumulative, and toxic chemical.” Sadly, dioxins are even present in some brands of baby food, bath products, and other common items too. However, you can significantly limit your baby’s exposure to dioxins by selecting diapers, like those from Eco Pea Co., that are totally chlorine free, as well as taking measures in other areas of your life.
2. Increased risk of an allergic reaction
While diapers that use chlorine can potentially cause the long-term health effects we’ve mentioned, these diapers also have a higher chance of causing an allergic reaction over diapers that are chlorine free. The most common allergic reaction to a diaper that is not totally chlorine free are uncomfortable rashes from diapers that might worsen if the baby is continually exposed to diapers produced with the use of chlorine. With our family, we found that our third daughter was getting new and painful rashes from the diaper brand we used previously, which is what prompted us to dig into this a little bit more and ultimately create Eco Pea bamboo diapers.
3. Negative environmental impacts
In addition to being a threat to baby’s health, disposable diapers made with chlorine can be a worse choice for the environment. Commonly, after chlorine is used to bleach diapers, and purify pulp, it enters local water supplies where it mixes with minerals and other elements that can result in dangerous toxins. These toxins can cause mutations and sterility in wildlife, and could even contribute to the extinction of certain species. These harmful toxins can also leach into soil, potentially contaminating food sources for animals and humans. The air is also impacted, as factories that use chlorine bleach emit toxins into the atmosphere, which can result in ozone depletion, and respiratory irritation in those exposed to the air.
The potential side effects of using chlorine in the production of diapers, and other household products, has caused many countries to ban chlorine bleach processing, or restrict its use. This makes a lot of sense, especially in relation to diapers, as babies typically use 2,200 to 3,000 diapers in their first year. That can lead to significant exposure that can easily be avoided.
What is TCF?
TCF stands for "totally chlorine free" and means that your diapers are processed without chlorine. For example, Eco Pea diapers are steam processed and purified instead of chlorine bleaching, which may be a little more effort, but allows us to avoid the above mentioned negative effects of using chlorine.
What Diapers are Chlorine Free?
Fortunately, after understanding the possible negative effects of chlorine in diapers, there are some great chlorine free diaper options available now. When researching brands, you'll want to look for brands that state "TCF" or "steam processed". Other things to look for are brands that use oxygen, ozone, or peroxide to purify the pulp instead. In addition to being free of the toxins that come with chlorine use, TCF diapers may be biodegradable and antimicrobial, like our bamboo diapers. We are proud to offer TCF diapers that are free of dioxins and other chemicals like alcohol, fragrances, phthalates and more. These chemicals are typically used in order to keep costs down, and though cleaner practices can sometimes cost a fraction more than others, we think there is no question that your baby's health and the health of the environment should always come first.
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