December 23, 2013
Living in this day and age, one learns to accept that there are harmful chemicals in a lot of the things we surround ourselves with and ingest: there are toxins in cosmetics, in food, in cleaning products, and so on and so (terrifyingly) forth. So, while it’s probably not surprising that feminine care products — tampons, pads, feminine wipes and douches — contain toxic substances, it is alarming how little is known about the scope and seriousness of the problem.
According to “Chem Fatale,” a creatively titled report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth (WVE), 85 percent of women use tampons. Tampons are normally made from bleached cotton and/or rayon; the bleaching process can expose the product to toxic dioxins and furans, which have been linked to “cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption,” and tampons made from non-organic cotton may contain pesticides. A 2002 study found “small but detectable” levels of both compounds in four separate tampon brands, and, although the study authors declared the toxin levels “insignificant compared to the risk of exposure… people face from eating food,” they failed to take into account the fact that vaginal tissue is highly permeable.