Nanotech could give us safer, greener diapers and sanitary products

IITH Develops Biodegradable And Nanofiber Based Sanitary Napkins

Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad has developed a nanofibers based feminine hygiene product without super-absorbent polymers (SAP).

Introduced the use of nanofibers
According to Professor Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Faculty- Chemical Engineering, his team has introduced the use of electrospun cellulose acetate (CA) nanofibers as a material for absorbent core in feminine sanitary napkins and to eliminate the use of harmful, non-biodegradable SAP from commercially available sanitary napkins without compromising the performance. The newly designed napkins have enhanced absorbency and comfort.

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The nanofibers we produced are about 200 times thinner than cotton fibers. (a) Commercial sanitary napkins with fiber diameter ~30-40 micrometers; (b) Electrospun nanofiber-based prototype with fiber diameter ~ 200 nm.

Safe alternative to female hygiene
In a statement to media issued by IIT(H) Prof Sharma said “Nanofibers based feminine hygiene products (without SAP) provide a safe alternative to female hygiene as we know that prolonged use of commercially available products may even lead to toxic shock syndrome and ovarian cancer, “The main focus of this work is to minimise the use of SAPs in feminine hygiene products considering their possible adverse health effects. For this, we intend to fabricate cellulose-based nanofibers and suggest their use as absorbent core in feminine hygiene products,” he added.

Feminine products may consist harmful ingredients
Maintaining hygiene during menstrual cycle is very important for everyone, as poor menstrual hygiene increases the vulnerability towards reproductive tract infections, ulcers in uterus and other (SITs) sexually transmitted diseases. There are many feminine hygiene product brands available in the market that consists of some harmful ingredients which can cause irritation and itching, if used for longer hours. There are harmful chemicals, like SAP present in the commercially available sanitary napkins, which are usually petroleum-based products and therefore do not degrade easily in landfills. Being harmful to the soil, they are also not eco-friendly.

DR Sharma Mentions That:

Our results show that electrospun nanofibers outperform commercially available sanitary products in terms of absorbency and comfort, and we think this makes it a good candidate to replace the potentially harmful materials currently used. And because it could help reduce the costs of sanitary napkins, it could improve the accessibility of these and other products to people in developing countries.

It has been truly satisfying to work on this research; it is a simple idea – to replace microfibers with nanofibers in feminine hygiene products – but it’s one that we hope will have a broad social and environmental impact.

REFERENCES

https://news.mynahcare.com/national/iit-hyderabad-develops-biodegradable-and-nanofiber-based-sanitary-napkins

Elsevier. “Nanotech could give us safer, greener diapers and sanitary products.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160927082912.htm>.

Credit: Yadav, Shital et al, Applied Materials Today, September 2016

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