If you’ve been researching non-toxic diapers or menstrual products, you may have come across the term “dioxins.” But what are dioxins, and why are they something you should be concerned about?
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What Are Dioxins & Where Do They Come From?
There are hundreds of different types of individual dioxins, but all dioxins come from three distinct chemical families: polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and certain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
They are produced as a by-product of certain industrial processes, like bleaching paper and pulp (which is why diapers and feminine products are white).
Chlorine-bleaching is one of the biggest producers of dioxins, but dioxins are also produced when people burn trash in their backyards. This is because chlorine is often in our trash, from things like packaging, diapers, and food wrappers.
Dioxins are made up of long chains of carbon and chlorine atoms, and they don’t break down easily in the environment.
When dioxins are released into the air, they can travel long distances before settling in the soil or water. Then they can enter the food chain when animals eat plants that have been contaminated with dioxins.
From there, dioxins can make their way into our bodies when we eat contaminated animal products. Dairy products, eggs, and meat are the biggest sources of dioxins in our diet.
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Dioxins?
Dioxins are on the EPA’s list of hazardous air pollutants that are of greatest concern in urban areas.
They are highly toxic chemical compounds, and they can build up in the body over time.
Dioxins have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and endocrine disruption.
How Can You Avoid Exposure To Dioxins?
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid dioxins because they are already a predominant presence in our environment.
There are some things you can do to reduce your exposure to dioxins though, like avoiding animal products and eating a vegetarian diet.
You can also avoid purchasing products that contribute to the high levels of dioxins in our environment like some brands of diapers, tampons, pads, and other sanitary products that use chlorine bleaching in their manufacturing processes.
(And making the switch to non-toxic diapers and sanitary products will also help you limit your family’s exposure to other potentially harmful chemicals found in diapers like phthalates, parabens, and fragrances.)
Are There Any Safe Sanitary Products That Don’t Contain Dioxins?
While the levels of dioxins in diapers and tampons are low and not considered to be a health risk by most experts, some people prefer to err on the side of caution and choose products that are dioxin-free.
You can easily find sanitary products that don’t contain dioxins. Just look for brands that are totally chlorine free.
Make sure the sanitary products you’re considering are clearly labeled “totally chlorine free” or “TCF.“
You may come across products that claim to be chlorine-free, but they’re only elemental chlorine free, which is not the same as totally chlorine free. It’s just a form of greenwashing.
Some brands that claim to be elemental chlorine free still use chlorine products in their manufacturing processes – just not directly. While they don’t use chlorine to bleach, they use products and bleaching agents that contain chlorine in their ingredients.
So when you’re looking for sanitary products, make sure they are totally chlorine free. And always check the labels to see what’s in the product before you buy it. If a company isn’t completely open about its ingredients and manufacturing products, that’s a red flag.
The Bottom Line
Dioxins are a group of highly toxic chemicals that can build up in our bodies over time.
They have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and endocrine disruption.
You can’t avoid dioxins completely, but you can take steps to limit their presence in our environment by looking for brands and products that are eco-friendly and sustainable.