Toxic Chemicals Found in Certain Brands of Tampons, Pads and Other Feminine Care Products
Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) just released a new report which found toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions in certain brands of tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays.
Not good news since these products come in contact with some of the most absorptive tissue on women’s bodies and many of us use them for a few days every month!
“Feminine care products are not just your average cosmetics, because they are used on an exceptionally sensitive and absorbent part of a woman’s body,” said Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research and author of the report. “Greater scrutiny, oversight and research are badly needed to assure the safety of these ingredients for women’s health.”
Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products are Unregulated
The FDA does not require feminine-care product manufacturers to tell you what’s in their products.
The report, Chem Fatale:Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, examines unregulated toxic chemicals in feminine care products that may result in serious health problems, like increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, asthma, and allergic reactions. Chemicals of concern commonly used in feminine care products include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens.
Some shocking highlights of the report:
While pads and tampons are used almost universally by all women, Black and Latina women use some feminine products like douches, wipes, and sprays in greater numbers than white women, meaning these women of disproportionately impacted by the toxic chemicals in these products.
Pads and tampons are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies don’t have to disclose any ingredients in these products.
Other feminine care products are regulated as personal care products, which means that companies are legally allowed to keep fragrance ingredients a secret from consumers—even the toxic ones.
Test results showdioxins, furans, and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.
Lots of feminine care products contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and formaldehyde is a carcinogen and a potent allergen.
The FDA considers common chemicals in feminine washes to be safe “for external use only.” However, it is extremely likely that some internal vaginal exposure will occur from regular use.
Anti-itch creams commonly contain chemicals that are either allergens or irritants, and can actually exacerbate the very symptoms that women are attempting to treat.
Because of weak regulation companies do not have to prove the chemicals they are using in these products are safe. That means companies are legally allowed to use ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and other chronic diseases
Check out this video demonstration from our friends at Naturally Savvy showing how when anAlways Infinity pad is set on fire it burns rapidly potentially indicating petrochemicals, plastics, and other chemicals, while a Natracare pad hardly burns.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Tampons and Other Feminine Care Products
Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance.
Reduce your use of feminine care products. Try using a menstrual cup.
Eliminate use of products that may be unnecessary.
Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads).
Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads. Choose organic when possible.
If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands! When you do switch – call the company’s 1-800 customer service to tell them why!).
Tell the FDA if you’ve had symptoms that may be from a feminine care product. Call 1-800-332-1088 or fill out a consumer reporting form available HERE.
Take Action: Ask Procter & Gamble to Disclose Ingredients
We have a right to know what’s in the products we use in and on our bodies. Feminine care products aren’t things we like to discuss on a regular basis, but we need to talk about this so they get the attention and scrutiny they deserve to assure their safety for women’s health.
Toxic chemicals have no place in feminine care products. Period. And it’s time to do something about it.
Join me in asking Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax tampons and Always pads, to disclose the ingredients in those products and remove toxic chemicals linked to women’s health problems by signing HERE.
Are you surprised that toxic chemicals were found in some brands of tampons and pads?
Hundreds of moms and dads along with some of their adorable children flew in to Washington DC from all over the country to let Congress know that we need toxic chemical reform. Now.
I traveled in from Boston, which proved to be nothing compared to the people who made their way to our nation’s capital from places like Alaska, California, and Montana. I’ve been to both Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Stroller Brigades and I have not one regret for making the trips.
This year I had the privilege of meeting some pretty spectacular people with some pretty unbelievable stories. Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be able to share a few of those stores with you. One thing that struck me about the journey to DC was that each of us arrived with our own story and reason for being there, but we were brought together for one common goal – to let Congress know that we mean business and the time for toxic chemical reform is NOW.
Over 200 moms, dads, cancer survivors, nurses, and advocates gathered at the U.S. Capitol to ask Congress for real reform of our toxic chemical laws.
I think we did our job while we were in DC, and we did it well. A BIG thank you to Lindsay Dahl and the rest of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families team and coalition for making this event a tremendous success.
Here are a few highlights from the day.
The Massachusetts delegation rocked. What an inspiring group of women. Here I am with Cheryl Durr Patry who is on the steering committee for The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, and is the founder of Medfield Green Moms and Madeleine Doggett who’s a student leader from Northeastern University and feels so strongly about these issues that she’s interning with Clean Water Action.
And our other Massachusetts representative joins us in this photo outside the Senate office building. Eugenia Gibbons leads a strong mom network in greater Boston and brought her amazing 1 year old Sylvie with her. She also brought a friend along and I borrowed her child for this photo.
Another thing that makes this trip so special is connecting with friends. Seeing Shane from Environmental Booty always makes me smile.
It was great to catch up with Filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer and her darling daughter.
Catching up with Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama is always a highlight (photo courtesy of Anne)
The Stroller Brigade is coming back to DC and I’m going to be there! On October 29th people are flying into Washington DC from across the country to let our Senators know that we want REAL reform of our toxic chemical laws.
Next week I’m heading to DC again to provide Congress with a reminder of where we stand. We stand for protecting our families from toxic chemical pollution. We stand for an economy based on safer, less toxic chemicals. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, toxins are basically unregulated in this country and can make their way into our homes without our knowledge.
I’ll be meeting with Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey and hopefully a few Representatives as well to talk about toxic chemical reform. Let me know if you’re planning to be there. I would love to meet you. I’m honored to be included in this exciting event. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of photos to share!
Stroller Brigade details:
When: October 29th, 2013 – 9:30 AM
Where: U.S. Capitol Lawn, Washington D.C. (RSVP for exact location)
What: Arrive at Capitol Hill 9:30 AM, Press conference at 10:00 AM, “Stroller Brigade” and meetings with Members of Congress to follow.
We all have the right to breathe clean air. This seems like a basic right, but I wonder why I find myself fighting again and again for stronger clean air regulations. And when it comes to our children and our schools I have no words. I think about the amount of time my kids spend in school each day and I wonder what they’re coming in contact with. I wonder if there’s a correlation between the reports showing asthma and childhood cancer on the rise. My concerns are real and they’re troubling, but they’re not enough to push me to home school. What they will do is keep me fighting for clean air.
Blog Action Day
Today is Blog Action Day, a day when bloggers from different countries, interests and languages join together to blog about one important global topic on the same day. This years thousands of blogs from all around the world are sharing their thoughts on Human Rights.
What is a Human Right?
Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that everyone is entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.
We’ve all heard of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, taken straight from the Declaration of Independence. Well there’s more. We’re all entitled to the freedom of expression, the right to food, shelter and the right to work and receive an education. These rights might sound relatively basic, but they’re not a given for many people around the globe. The right to breathe clean air is something that we should all be able to take for granted, but in our present world we can’t.
Clean Air in Our Schools Should be a Fundamental Right
The past few days have been a complete whirlwind – in a good way. No, a great way. And I owe a lot of the excitement to YOU.
I received an award for Distinguished Service to the Community
I’m feeling incredibly humbled and honored. After spending the day in New York City I made my way back to Massachusetts and then turned around and headed into the State House in Boston to receive an award for consumer advocacy.
It was such a special day and my family was kind enough to join me and shower me with their unwavering support. The boys were not happy about changing out of their shorts and t-shirts, but missing school was a big plus.
The House of Representatives presented me with a Citation that read:
The Massachusetts House of Representatives offers its sincerest congratulations to Lori Alper in recognition of your steadfast commitment to promoting environmental education and awareness.
The Massachusetts Senate also presented me with this Official Citation:
The Massachusetts Senate hereby extends its congratulations to Lori Alper in recognition of your passionate consumer advocacy and dedication to environmental education.
Seriously cool stuff. To be honored and recognized by your state for the work that you and thousands of others are doing makes everything worthwhile.
And now back to why I have YOU to thank. So many of you continue to support the issues that so many of us hold near and dear to our heart, most of which fall under the “keeping our children safe” umbrella. Your support comes through in many different ways- for example those of you who signed the Tide petition and/or the Disney petition were instrumental in making change happen.
A big thank you to Representative Gordon and Senator Barrett for the incredible work they are doing to make the world a better place and their willingness to recognize others on a similar quest.
Like I said, together we can and will make a difference.
Now back to yoga pants, soccer, karate and baseball. Have a groovy green weekend! Any big plans?
My oldest just turned 13. How could that possibly be? He’s 5’5″ and pretty much towering over my 5’3″ self. I’m watching him closely now. Watching and waiting for changes. It’s going too fast and I don’t want to miss a thing.
I think back to the days when we were trying to get pregnant and the many years of infertility. So long ago, yet the memories are ingrained.
Creating our family didn’t come easily. We were forced, as many are, to place a tremendous amount of thought into whether or not we wanted to bring children into this world. Infertility will do that to you. We made a conscious decision to start a family and found our way through both adoption and natural childbirth.
Now here we are-13, 11 and 9 years later-in a world which my boys will soon inherit. A world filled with toxins, chemicals and other poisons that are making our children sick.
New Report Says Environmental Chemicals Could Cause Infertility and Other Health Issues
The nation’s largest groups of obstetricians and fertility specialists just came out with a report saying our daily exposure to environmental chemicals could be harming our reproductive health.
I’m not sure this is new news? But it is coming from a group with a lot of klout so hopefully it will attract more mainstream attention.
The report also said that virtually every pregnant woman is exposed to at least 43 different chemicals and some of those chemicals can make their way directly to the fetus.
And it’s not just about women and pregnancy. The report pointed out that pesticide exposure in adult men has been linked to sterility and prostate cancer.
Most Americans Have Traces of BPA in Their Urine
The report uses BPA, or bisphenol-A, a hormone disrupting chemical, as an example. BPA can be found in the lining of some metal cans, on cash register receipts and in some plastics.
Exposure to BPA, used to make the epoxy-resin linings of metal food cans, has been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Childhood exposure is of concern because this endocrine-disrupting chemical can affect children’s hormonal systems during development and set the stage for later‐life diseases.
The president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Conry, is advising common sense.
Common Sense Isn’t Enough
“There’s only so much people can do as individuals and families to limit chemical exposures,” said University of Washington public health dean Dr. Howard Frumkin, an environmental health specialist not involved in the report
That’s right-there’s only so much we can do. Using common sense isn’t enough.
These are the real issues: Why should the burden be on a pregnant woman or a family trying to conceive? Why isn’t our government protecting us? Why are these products allowed on the shelves of our stores filled with chemicals that prevent us from getting pregnant or are making our children sick?
My Infertility and Pregnancy
I think back to those many years of trying to get pregnant. The bouts of crying and conflicting emotions when a friend or family member became pregnant. A feeling of happiness for those I loved and a sadness for what I didn’t have.
Common sense is my middle name. I spent those years struggling with infertility and eating well and taking care of myself as best I could. But I still wasn’t getting pregnant. The rational side of me knows that there are many different causes of infertility and the environmental component is just one piece of the puzzle. Pregnancy finally did happen, but nevertheless I still pause and wonder if my years of struggling with infertility could have been avoided if our consumer products were safe once they hit the shelves.
And then I think about all the countless others struggling with the same unexplained infertility and unexplained illness.
You Can Help
Congress is considering updating our laws on toxic chemicals and as they do it, they need to hear from you, me and thousands of other Americans why this issue should rise to the top of their list of priorities.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is collecting these personal stories to keep the pressure on our elected officials and will hand-deliver them to Congress in Washington this fall.
Walmart is the world’s biggest multinational retailer, with “superstores” selling everything from clothes and electronics to furniture and groceries and it’s decided to take steps towards selling safer products.
Walmart’s Plan of Action
“Walmart customers expect products that are safe, affordable and sustainable.”
~Walmart Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables
Walmart is taking consumer pressure seriously and announced that it will try to get their suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out 10 potentially toxic chemicals from personal care products, cosmetics and cleaning products sold in its stores. Walmart has also agreed to work with their suppliers to move towards safer alternatives.
The disclosure practices will begin in 2015 and apply to cleaners, personal care products, cosmetics and baby care.
While this appears to be a giant leap in the right direction, there are a few pieces of Walmart’s big news that are concerning.
Walmart has yet to disclose which chemicals would be phased out. They have confirmed that all 10 chemicals appear on the list of chemicals that Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families published in April as part of its Mind the Store campaign. Why won’t they tell us what the 10 are right now? What’s the secrecy all about? If you’re aiming for full transparency this isn’t a very good way to start.
Consumers still need to do their homework before purchasing a product. Walmart’s taking a step towards transparency, but we can’t assume that all of their products will now be safe. Remember-they’re only committing to phase out 10 toxic chemicals while there are over 100 on the list. A product could still contain other toxic chemicals in addition to the 10 secret ingredients that Walmart is planning to phase out. This is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go.
In Walmart’s defense, it described this as just the beginning of action on chemicals rather than the end. I’m generally not a Walmart shopper, but I do know that these changes will ultimately impact the safety of the products I buy. Even though I have concerns, this step by Walmart shouldn’t be taken lightly-it’s a huge undertaking with half a million products in every store from more than 100,000 suppliers. We know other retailers are watching how this whole thing plays out. Fingers crossed that they will soon follow Walmart’s lead.
What do you think about Walmart’s announcement to disclose and phase out a few toxic chemicals?
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….