On Twitter tonight (it’s Wednesday) there is a chat called EcoWed. Folks on Twitter chime in on topics that are eco-related and also often health related. One of the frequent discussions is around the safety of plastics.
Recently a customer emailed about a concern with the safety of using Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) covers for her newborn. She had done some preliminary research that left her with some questions.
Let’s take a look at PUL. PUL is a very common fabric used in the diaper industry. It is used in many other industries as well. For the purpose of the following information, we are only looking at PUL specifically manufactured for cloth diapering.
PUL is used for the outer layer of diapers or as the fabric for diaper covers and functions to keep the wetness in while allowing airflow to reach the baby’s skin. It is very durable, even under the rigorous washing conditions associated with washing cloth diapers.
Thanks to Shirley of Bummis, we have some good (and reassuring) information to share with you. Bummis is the manufacturer of the Canadian made and gold standard Super Whisper Wrap and Super Brite Diaper covers.
Firstly, all of the fabrics used in these diaper covers meets or exceeds US Government CPSIA standards indicating that there are no diisocyanates present in the polyurethane lamination. Diisocyanates are a respiratory hazard for which inhalation and dermal contact should be avoided. Other potential toxins that are standard for CPSIA testing include hydrogen cyanide, pthalates, formaldehyde or lead. While these are not expected to be present at any level in PUL testing confirmed that the levels of these potential toxins were zero.
On the making of PUL – PUL is formed by reacting polyol with diisocyanates in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives. This makes the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from initial stages of the polymerization. This process is completed in a factory within a controlled environment. Once the polymer is made, these initial substances cease to exist as they were and have formed another compound known as TPU.
The newly created TPU is an inert material.
The Material Saftey Data Sheet for TPU states that it only releases harmful chemicals above 428F degrees. This is true for all plastics. If any TPU was heated to such a high melting point, they could release toxic fumes but this is not the case in a stable product with regular use.
TPU is used on open wound dressings as the waterproof film that stops fluids from seeping out. One of the reasons TPU is used in this application is that it is not an irritant. Beyond dressings, TPU is used in many medical invasive applications approved by the US FDA.
So with that all said, are PUL diaper covers safe for your little one? Yes, with regular use and care, they are comprised of inert substances that will not expose your child to potentially toxic fumes or chemicals.