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ANSES proposes an EU-wide restriction of hazardous chemicals in disposable diapers

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News of 22/12/2020

Protecting the health of 90% of European children from birth to three years of age from exposure to hazardous substances: this is the aim of the restriction proposal concerning disposable diapers that ANSES has submitted under REACh, the European chemicals regulation. It seeks to minimise the presence in these items of almost 200 substances, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, furans, PCBs and formaldehyde.

In its 2019 expert appraisal, ANSES highlighted the health risks to babies associated with the presence of chemicals of concern in single-use diapers. In order to protect the health of very young children, ANSES has submitted a restriction proposal to the European Chemicals Agency. This restriction would make it possible to regulate the sale of diapers on the European market and guarantee the same level of safety for all products.  


Regulatory measures to eliminate health risks


ANSES has set threshold concentrations not to be exceeded for certain substances that have been identified in diapers: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, furans, PCBs and formaldehyde. These thresholds are designed to drastically reduce the concentrations of these substances in disposable diapers, thereby eliminating the risk to babies' health.

The Agency has also proposed a method for analysing diapers, to be harmonised at European level, in order to screen for these substances. Indeed, in its 2019 expert appraisal, ANSES had developed a method that can take into account the most realistic conditions of exposure according to the baby's behaviour. The aim is now to build on this methodological basis.

Lastly, ANSES has put forward several hypotheses on the sources of diaper contamination and suggested measures to limit such contamination, mainly by reinforcing controls on raw materials and manufacturing processes. It therefore recommends carrying out additional tests to verify that raw materials are not already contaminated before manufacture, monitoring the temperature during heating to avoid the formation of PAHs, checking bleaching processes, and removing certain dyes.