ByChrystal Johnson

Nov 17, 2014
Lady's handbag emptied out with tampax box

Feminine care products. They’re an inevitable part of life if you’re a woman. You can’t really avoid them, short of having surgery, can you?

Since these products come into close contact with the most sensitive parts of our bodies, they should be safe and free of harmful chemicals, right? Unfortunately that is no longer an assumption that can or should be made.

Detox the Box

The non-profit Women’s Voices of the Earth (WVE) recently conducted testing on Always Pads, a major brand of feminine care products manufactured by Proctor & Gamble. These tests showed the pads emit toxic chemicals, including some that have been identified as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency.

A partial list of concerning chemicals detected include:

  • Styrene (a human carcinogen)
  • Chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant)
  • Chloroethane (a carcinogen)
  • Chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant and neurotoxin)
  • Acetone (an irritant)
  • Click to see full list

Always-Testing-Social-Image_FINALWhile it’s startling to find these ingredients in feminine care products, the lack of labeling is especially concerning. The manufacturer of Always pads does not disclose any of these harmful chemicals on the product or its packaging – so women have no way of knowing what they’re exposing themselves to.

Manufacturers are able to skirt the need for product labeling because tampons and pads are currently registered as medical devices. Medical devices do not need to label ingredients like cosmetics do because they can hide behind the guise of “trade secrets.”

Much like the push for GMO labeling, a new movement to label ingredients in feminine care products is growing. The Robin Danielson Act was recently introduced in Congress. If passed, this Act would require more research on the potential risks of the inclusion of chemical fragrances, synthetic fibers and chemicals (e.g., dioxin) in tampons and pads.

Together, WVE and Naturally Savvy have collected 21,000 signatures asking Proctor & Gamble to disclose all ingredients and eliminate toxic chemicals. You can get involved in the movement by calling or emailing Proctor & Gamble (sample script).

In the meantime, it would be a wise decision to move away from conventional pads and tampons. Menstrual cups and reusable pads made from organic fibers are the safest choices. If you’re not ready to hop on the reusable bandwagon, stick with organic pads and tampons from brands like Natracare, Organ(y)c, Maxim and Seventh Generation.

How concerned are you about the toxic chemicals in conventional pads and tampons?

Feature image courtesy of flo2night

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.