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Always Pads Testing Results

Product testing results show that Always pads release chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive and developmental harm.

Always padsWhat’s Hiding in Always Pads?

In August 2014 Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned testing of four types of Always menstrual pads, manufactured by Procter & Gamble. The certified laboratory STAT Analysis Corporation analyzed the products for volatile organic compound. These data represent the first publicly available test results of this kind for these products. Both scented and unscented Always Ultra Thin pads were tested, as well as scented and unscented Always Infinity.

The results of the testing indicate that both scented and unscented Always pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified 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 as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins. None of these chemicals are disclosed on the product by the manufacturer.

Procter & Gamble does not disclose the identity of the materials used to manufacture its menstrual pads (UPDATE via New York Times 2015: “Under Pressure, Feminine Product Makers Disclose Ingredients“). Thus it remains unclear which components of the pad may be the source of the volatile toxic emissions. The testing results demonstrate the need for more testing of these products to better characterize the chemical exposures and to better understand the potential health impacts of those exposures.

Products Tested

Always Ultra Thin unscented

Always Ultra Thin Clean Scent

Always Infinity unscented

Always Radiant Infinity Light Clean Scent


Analysis of the samples for volatile organic compounds was conducted by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry with EPA Method TO-15 using headspace containers.


The Always menstrual pads were found to contain several chemicals of concern, including the following:

  • Styrene: carcinogen
  • Chloromethane: reproductive toxicant
  • Chloroethane: carcinogen
  • Chloroform: carcinogen, reproductive toxicant, neurotoxin
  • Acetone: irritant.

Volatile Organic Compounds Detected in the Headspace of Menstrual Pads

Chemicals Detected Clean Scent Always Ultra Thin Unscented Always Ultra Thin Clean Scent Always Radiant Unscented Always Infinity
Chemical Name ppbv ppbv ppbv ppbv
1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene 0.64 0.54 ND 1.20
1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene ND ND ND 0.54
2-Butanone 7.50 7.70 ND 4.20
4-Ethyltoluene ND ND ND 0.46
Acetone 480.00 340.00 92.00 93.00
Chloroethane ND ND 4.40 6.10
Chloroform 1.20 1.50 ND ND
Chloromethane ND ND ND 16.00
Cyclohexane 0.50 0.78 ND 1.10
Ethyl acetate 8.00 5.50 ND 2.30
Ethylbenzene ND 0.52 ND 0.84
Heptane 1.10 1.50 ND 0.86
Isopropyl Alcohol 170.00 39.00 ND 17.00
m,p-Xylene 1.40 2.00 ND 2.80
o-Xylene 0.54 0.68 ND 1.50
Styrene 0.44 ND ND 1.10
Toluene 3.20 6.20 ND 7.00
trans-1,2-Dichloroethene ND 0.50 26.00 ND
Vinyl acetate 14.00 ND ND 6.60
Xylenes, Total 2.00 2.70 ND 4.30

ND = not detected

Download this fact sheet

Related Articles:

– VOCs in Menstrual Pads and Cleaning Up Supply Chains

– What’s in Period Products? A Timeline of Chemical Testing

– Nanosilver in Period Care Products

Text PERIOD to 52886 to stay updated on actions, local events and information on period health.

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