Sanitary pads and diapers contain higher phthalate contents than those in common commercial plastic products

Reprod Toxicol. 2019 Mar;84:114-121. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.01.005. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


Sanitary pads and diapers are made of synthetic plastic materials that can potentially be released while being used. This study measured the amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (methylene chloride, toluene, and xylene) and phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP, and BBP) contained in sanitary pads and diapers. In sanitary pads, 5,900- and 130-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were seen among the brands. In the diapers, 3- and 63-fold differences of VOC and phthalate concentrations were detected among the brands. VOC concentrations from the sanitary pads and diapers were similar to that of the residential air. However, phthalate concentrations of sanitary pads and diapers were significantly higher than those found in common commercial plastic products. As sanitary pads and diapers are in direct contact with external genitalia for an extended period, there is a probability that a considerable amount of VOCs or phthalates could be absorbed into the reproductive system.

Keywords: Diapers; Phthalates; Sanitary pads; VOCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbent Pads*
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Methylene Chloride / analysis
  • Phthalic Acids / analysis*
  • Plastics
  • Toluene / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis
  • Xylenes / analysis


  • Phthalic Acids
  • Plastics
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Xylenes
  • Toluene
  • Methylene Chloride