Image: “1973 Ad, Kotex Tampons” via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.
In the United States, women spend more than $2 billion per year on feminine hygiene products, which include tampons, pads, feminine washes, and personal wipes. However, little research has been conducted on how chemicals in these products may affect women’s health.
A recent yahoo article brought up the fact that no one knows if tampons are safe enough to use.
It states that the Food and Drug Administration gives its approval to these products with little oversight and relies on the manufacturers to conduct the safety testing.
This is problematic because we are essentially getting products that are approved by the FDA but that they have not tested thoroughly.
The health advocacy group Women’s Voices of the Earth has made it its mission to study feminine products in order to assess their safety. Through extensive research, the advocacy group has found that many of the popular feminine care products contain toxic and allergenic chemicals that can cause serious health issues.
Tampons have been found to contain dioxins and furans as well as pesticide residues. Dioxins and furans are byproducts of the chlorine bleaching process used in the manufacturing of tampons.
According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems as well as cancer. These are products that should be kept far away from humans but that are still present in many of women’s feminine products.
Women’s Voices of the Earth also reports that pads may also contain dioxins and furans, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile, all of which can potentially cause cancer, reproductive issues and endocrine disruption. Feminine wipes and washes may include parabens, which can interfere with the body’s hormones.
Even though this is a prevalent issue, not much has been done to gain more insight on the harmful effects of these products. However, U.S Representative Carolyn Maloney has created a bill, called the Robin Danielson Act, in order to establish a “program of research regarding the risks posed by the presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrances, and other components of feminine hygiene products.”
Although this is promising, getting Congress to acknowledge this issue has been difficult, as Maloney has tried to reintroduce similar legislation since 1997 but legislators have ignored the bills nine times before. It is time that the male-dominated Congress stop ignoring women’s issues. We deserve to be aware of the chemicals that are in the products we buy. We deserve to have access to safe products.