Chem Fatale: New Report Finds Chemicals in Feminine Care Products
Casual chit-chat about feminine care products doesn’t really come up a whole lot in polite conversation today. But a new report from Women’s Voices for the Earth that digs into the safety of everything from tampons to sprays is giving us all something to talk about.
The report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, examines unregulated toxic chemicals in tampons, pads, wipes, sprays, douches and other feminine care products.
According to the report, ingredients of concern commonly found in these products include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens. Not to mention the fact that these chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most absorptive skin on women’s bodies.
Keen to learn more? Here are a few notable highlights from the report:
• 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—even the toxic ones.
• Test results show dioxins, 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.
• Common chemicals in feminine washes are regulated by the FDA as safe “for external use only.” However, it is extremely likely that some internal vaginal exposure will occur from regular use.
• 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 are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals in these products.
How can you choose safer feminine care products? Women’s Voices for the Earth offers a few tips:
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Exposure
- Avoid Hall of Shame products
- Print our Chemicals of Concern fact sheet and take it with you when shopping for feminine care products.
- Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance.
- Reduce your use of feminine care products.
- Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads).
- Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads.