Toxic substances including WEEDKILLER found in nappies in France

Toxic and ‘cancer-causing’ substances including WEEDKILLER found in nappies in France, Government investigation reveals

  • Among the substances was glyphosate, which is believed to cause cancer
  • Experts said they found ‘dangerously high levels’ of toxic chemicals
  • The government urged companies to start phasing chemicals out within 15 days  

Toxic and potentially cancer-causing chemicals have been found in babies’ nappies in France, an investigation has revealed.

Among the concerning findings was glyphosate, a chemical used in weedkiller which was last year deemed to have caused an American man’s cancer.

Experts said they found ‘dangerously high levels’ of substances which could cause harm to children and urged companies to stop using them.

The country’s government has said it will give manufacturers 15 days to take steps towards phasing out the chemicals.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety discovered what it called ‘dangerously high levels’ of chemicals in babies’ nappies (stock image)

The chemicals’ presence in nappies sold in supermarkets was discovered by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES). 

The government department published its report today and called for tougher regulations.

‘Following studies carried out on nappies and how they are used, the watchdog has found evidence of several chemical substances at dangerously high levels,’ ANSES said.

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According to the study, glyphosate – a weedkiller – is among the chemicals discovered in popular nappies. 

The World Health Organization says glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’ (cancer-causing) although there is debate over whether it causes cancer in reality. 

It hit headlines last year when Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old groundskeeper in California, convinced a court Roundup weedkiller gave him cancer.

In a world-first case, Mr Johnson was awarded $289million (£222m) after a jury agreed glyphosate in the weedkiller, made by Monsanto, had contributed to his lymphoma. 

Other substances found in nappies included butylphenyl methylpropional, which is used in beauty products, and certain aromatic hydrocarbons.

The French government said manufacturers and retailers should ensure the substances are removed from nappies.

The report did not name specific brands, but Pampers’ Baby Dry nappies were found to contain glyphosate in 2017, as well as other French brands sold in Carrefour supermarkets. 

‘We call on manufacturers and retailers to take measures within the next 15 days to eliminate these substances from babies’ nappies,’ said a statement from the health, environment and finance ministries.

Glyphosate, which is off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of chemical groups, is due to be phased out in France within three years.

Although farmers will be exempt from the ban where there is no credible alternative to the pesticide.


At least three cereals on supermarket shelves in the UK may contain an unhealthy amount of a potentially cancer-causing weedkiller, a report claimed in October.

Tests ordered by Welsh campaigner and scientist Dr Rosemary Mason apparently found levels of glyphosate are higher in cereals from Kellogg’s, Quaker and Weetabix than considered safe for humans.

Campaigners the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim any more glyphosate than 160 parts per billion (ppb) in cereal is unsafe.

But Kellogg’s No Added Sugar Granola with Apricot and Pumpkin Seeds, Quaker’s Oat So Simple Original Microwaveable Oats, and Weetabix’s Oatibix are all said to contain levels higher than EWG’s benchmark.

These three cereals were part of just four which were sent to the US for testing by a scientist in South Wales – Cheerios were also sent but had lower levels.

It comes after a EWG report found 26 of 28 oat-based cereal products in the US contained ‘harmful’ levels of glyphosate.

The World Health Organization says glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’ – cancer-causing – although there is debate over whether it causes cancer in reality.

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