Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs First-in-Nation Period Product Ingredient Disclosure Into Law
New York is the first state in the nation to require makers of period products to disclosure ingredients on the label
(Albany, New York – October 11, 2019) – New York is the first state in the nation to require period product makers to disclose ingredients. There is no federal requirement to do so, and only a few companies provide this vital information. A.164-A, introduced by Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), and S.2387-B, introduced by Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (D-District 19), was signed into law this afternoon by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The bill passed both houses of the New York State Legislature in June. The signing of this historic bill coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl, which aims to uplift and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
“Practically every product on the market today is required to list its ingredients, yet these items have inexplicably evaded this basic consumer protection,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s part of the pervasive culture of inequality in our society that has gone on for too long, and that injustice ends today as we become the first state in the nation to mandate ingredient disclosure and empower women to make their own decisions about what goes into their bodies. This builds on the reproductive health protections that New York has safeguarded for women and girls across our state and we are proud to lead the nation by advancing these critically important new protections.”
“Now that my bill to require menstrual product ingredient disclosure on packaging has become law, every single New Yorker who uses tampons and pads will know exactly what’s in the products they use in and on some of the most sensitive parts of their bodies for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, one week out of the year for as many as 40 years,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), author of legislation that axed New York’s tampon tax and mandated menstrual products be provided free in schools and correctional facilities statewide. “This first-in-the-nation disclosure law firmly establishes New York as a national leader on menstrual equity. Menstrual product ingredient disclosure is a vital consumer empowerment tool, and will hold menstrual product manufacturers to the highest level of accountability. It is my hope that more states follow suit.”
“It seems logical, considering the personal nature of menstrual products, that we require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in the products that are widely used by women in the most intimate part of their bodies,” said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (D-Brooklyn). “Consumers deserve transparency when shopping for any product. I am thrilled to see New York lead the way in the implementation of common-sense policy, and hope to see more states follow suit. Many thanks to Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal for championing this bill, and much appreciation to the Governor for seeing the importance of this landmark new law.”
“This law makes sure that people are informed about the ingredients in the products that they need to manage their period,” said Amber Garcia, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). “It builds on WVE’s work to ensure that people are able to see what is in their products, and that toxic chemicals are not present in the products that we all use in our everyday lives. No one should have to worry that their period products will cause harm to their health or future fertility. We applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this important bill into law,” Garcia added.
“The Governor’s decision to codify the tremendous work of Assembly Member Rosenthal and Senator Persaud by signing the Period Products disclosure bill into law confirms what we have always known – Governor Cuomo is an ally to menstruators in New York State,” said Kathleen Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “Clean and Healthy New York’s work is focused on peoples’ right to know about toxicants in their daily lives, and the need for swift, comprehensive government and corporate action when harm could occur. We deserve to know what ingredients we’re putting in and on our bodies. Thanks to this critical piece of legislation, we finally will.”
Unlike personal care products, tampons, pads and menstrual cups are considered ‘medical devices’ by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not subject to ingredient labeling. As a result, ingredients used in these products are rarely disclosed publicly.
Potentially harmful substances like nanosilver are found in some period underwear and pads. Nanosilver is effective at killing bacteria, including lactobacilli, which is necessary for a healthy vagina. In addition, vaginal administration of nanosilver can lead to the migration of silver particles into the bloodstream. While the use of nanosilver and other added chemicals in period products is increasing, the studies on their effects are insufficient, and people aren’t aware of what they are being exposed to.
“For years, women’s health has been at the mercy of the companies making period products because they’ve not been required to disclose any of the toxic chemicals they intentionally add like nanosilver,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director at WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Co-Leader of the Just Green Partnership. “People who menstruate, especially those who live in communities of color where there are disproportionate levels of toxic exposure, have a fundamental right to this information—especially considering the health risks some ingredients like nanosilver pose. We thank the Governor for enacting this groundbreaking policy.”
Some period product manufacturers already disclose intentionally added ingredients, highlighting the need to standardize disclosure practices across all brands, and for additional research into the impacts of the use of different chemicals on vaginal health, overall health and future fertility.
“At Seventh Generation, we believe people have a right to know what’s in the products they use,” said Ashley Orgain Global Director Advocacy and Sustainability. “Truth and transparency are not just the right things to do, they’re what’s good for business. That’s why Seventh Generation has been disclosing ingredients since 2008 and advocating this be the law of the land. Governor Cuomo is helping New York lead the nation with the passage of Bill A.164-A/S.2387-B.”
“Disclosing ingredients is no longer a ‘nice to have’ when it comes to consumer products, customers now demand it,” said Meika Hollender, Co-founder & CEO of Sustain Natural. “Especially when it comes to tampons, of which menstruating people use an average of 11,000 in their lifetime, there is no way to argue in my mind that a person should not have the right to access information about what’s in these products. In order to make responsible and informed decisions about our health, and the health of our families, it is a consumer’s right to know what’s in their products. This law will make New York State a leader in ingredient transparency, while also supporting innovation, and I am thrilled that I and Sustain have been an advocate since day one.”
“We’re thrilled to see our home state of New York take such a vital step of progress, and we hope that this legislation helps set the standard for future action across the country,” said Lindsey Swedick, Brand Marketing Director. “We founded LOLA in 2015 because we believe people have a right to know exactly what ingredients are going in and around their bodies when it comes to their reproductive health. We’ve been fighting for greater ingredient transparency ever since, and are proud to have played a part in sparking a national dialogue to help de-stigmatize the conversation around periods and empower people with products and resources to make more informed decisions for their bodies.”
“Phasing out harmful and unnecessary toxic chemicals in menstrual products will have a lasting effect on both the health of the New Yorkers who use them and the environment,” said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation & Development Program Manager for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “Ultimately, these chemicals find their way into the environment, be it through the air, water, or when these products eventually end up in the landfill. The Sierra Club applauds the Legislature and Governor Cuomo for taking this much-needed action to ensure New Yorkers are one step closer to a toxic-free future.”
“A huge win, New York State is addressing the issue of menstrual health, head-on,” said Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. “We are pleased Governor Cuomo took action and signed this right to know what is in our personal care products into law.”
“Finally, through new disclosure requirements, we will be better informed about ingredients in period products that may be linked to breast cancer and other chronic diseases,” said Laura Weinberg, President of The Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. “The Legislature and Governor Cuomo has taken an important step to arm people with the information they need to make safe purchasing decisions, making this a major win for all New Yorkers.”
The measure was backed by DivaCup, Good Clean Love, LOLA, Natracare, Sustain Natural, and the JustGreen Partnership, a collaboration over 50 groups representing over a million New Yorkers working for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities.
ABOUT Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE)
Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national environmental health organization that works to amplify women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. WVE’s menstrual products work was launched in 2013 with the report, Chem Fatale, and has helped elevate the topic of period health into the public mainstream. www.womensvoices.org
Jamie McConnell, Director of Program and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth
Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science & Research at Women’s Voices for the Earth
Kathy Curtis, Executive Director, Clean & Healthy New York