Toxic Chemicals Found in Certain Brands of Tampons, Pads and Other Feminine Care Products
Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) just released a new report which found toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions in certain brands of tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays.
Not good news since these products come in contact with some of the most absorptive tissue on women’s bodies and many of us use them for a few days every month!
“Feminine care products are not just your average cosmetics, because they are used on an exceptionally sensitive and absorbent part of a woman’s body,” said Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research and author of the report. “Greater scrutiny, oversight and research are badly needed to assure the safety of these ingredients for women’s health.”
Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products are Unregulated
The FDA does not require feminine-care product manufacturers to tell you what’s in their products.
The report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, examines unregulated toxic chemicals in feminine care products that may result in serious health problems, like increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, asthma, and allergic reactions. Chemicals of concern commonly used in feminine care products include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens.
Some shocking highlights of the report:
•While pads and tampons are used almost universally by all women, Black and Latina women use some feminine products like douches, wipes, and sprays in greater numbers than white women, meaning these women of disproportionately impacted by the toxic chemicals in these products.
•Pads and tampons are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies don’t have to disclose any ingredients in these products.
•Other feminine care products are regulated as personal care products, which means that companies are legally allowed to keep fragrance ingredients a secret from consumers—even the toxic ones.
•Test results show dioxins, furans, and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.
•Lots of feminine care products contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and formaldehyde is a carcinogen and a potent allergen.
•The FDA considers common chemicals in feminine washes to be safe “for external use only.” However, it is extremely likely that some internal vaginal exposure will occur from regular use.
•Anti-itch creams commonly contain chemicals that are either allergens or irritants, and can actually exacerbate the very symptoms that women are attempting to treat.
•Because of weak regulation companies do not have to prove the chemicals they are using in these products are safe. That means companies are legally allowed to use ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and other chronic diseases
•Check out this video demonstration from our friends at Naturally Savvy showing how when an Always Infinity pad is set on fire it burns rapidly potentially indicating petrochemicals, plastics, and other chemicals, while a Natracare pad hardly burns.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Tampons and Other Feminine Care Products
•Avoid Hall of Shame products.
•Read the labels to avoid chemicals of concern.
•Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance.
•Reduce your use of feminine care products. Try using a menstrual cup.
•Eliminate use of products that may be unnecessary.
•Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads).
•Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads. Choose organic when possible.
•If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands! When you do switch – call the company’s 1-800 customer service to tell them why!).
•Tell the FDA if you’ve had symptoms that may be from a feminine care product. Call 1-800-332-1088 or fill out a consumer reporting form available HERE.
Take Action: Ask Procter & Gamble to Disclose Ingredients
We have a right to know what’s in the products we use in and on our bodies. Feminine care products aren’t things we like to discuss on a regular basis, but we need to talk about this so they get the attention and scrutiny they deserve to assure their safety for women’s health.
Toxic chemicals have no place in feminine care products. Period. And it’s time to do something about it.