What’s in the Just Released Chem Fatale Report?
Would you be surprised to learn that feminine care products - like tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays - can contain hazardous ingredients? And these toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most absorptive tissue on women’s bodies!
Women’s Voices for the Earth just released a new report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, which 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 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.
- 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
What WVE Has to Say
“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.”
Ways to Reduce Exposure
- Avoid Hall of Shame products
- Read the labels to avoid chemicals of concern
- Look for brands that disclose all ingredients, including what’s in fragrance
- Reduce your use of feminine care products
- Eliminate use of products that may be unnecessary to a healthy vagina
- Choose unscented products where available (particularly tampons and pads)
- Choose chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons and pads
- 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 at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm
Action: Asking Procter & Gamble to Disclose Ingredients
Obviously, this is not an issue that comes up in everyday conversation. No one likes to talk about these products, or their use of these products, and as a result they are not getting the attention, scrutiny or oversight they deserve to assure their safety for women’s health.
That’s why we’re talking about it. Toxic chemicals have no place in feminine care products. Period. And we’re going to do something about it. Join us 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.
~ Special thanks to Women’s Voices for the Earth for authoring this eye-opening post, originally published on November 6, 2013 at womensvoices.org. Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. ~