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  • Writer's pictureRutendo Matinyarare

Secret Toxic Chemicals in Tampons.

Updated: Sep 27, 2018

The potential impact of toxic chemical exposure from tampons on health is significant, because they are worn internally, with direct contact to some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on a woman’s body .

As a black man, I will be cursed for informing women not to put poison in their vaginas, because, what do I know about vaginas as a man.

“However, they will wear a tampon made by a white man laced with petrol chemicals, pesticides and GMOs to do harm to them without asking what he knows about vaginas .”

Your womb is the womb of my nation, don't you see why I speak? You are one with me, you are my rib, don't you know that?

I cry for the black nation.

What Is a Tampon Made Of?

Some manufacturers will disclose the main components of tampons, and the list usually looks something like this: “Rayon and/or cotton fiber, polyethylene overwrap, cotton cord, cardboard applicator.” This all sounds pretty simple and straightforward. What is left out of this description, however, are the other potential absorptive materials, additives, fragrances, and potential contaminants that can be found in tampons. Public patent documents held by these companies indicate a number of other chemicals they might be incorporating into tampons, but which are rarely, if ever, disclosed to the consumer.

Examples of other absorbent materials that may be used in tampons include:

Creped cellulose wadding, meltblown polymers, chemically-stiffened fibers, polyester fibers, peat moss, foam, tissue wraps and laminates, super absorbent gels and open-celled foams. (US Patent #6,840,927)

Examples of additives that may be used in tampons include:

Myreth-3-myristate (as lubricant) (US Patent # 5,591,123); Natural and synthetic zeolites (as odor-absorbing particles) (US Patent # 5,161,686); Alcohol ethoxylates, glycerol esters, polysorbate-20 (as surfactants to disperse fragrance) and unnamed anti-bacterial agents (US Patent # 8,585,668)

Scented tampons are infused with fragrance, which could be made up of combinations of any of nearly 3,000 different chemicals. Examples of potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in fragrance include:

Cancer-causing chemicals such as: styrene, pyridine, methyleugenol, and butylated hydroxyanisole; Phthalates of concern (DEP and DINP); Synthetic musks (potential hormone disruptors); and numerous allergens.[ii]

Contaminants can also end up in tampons as a result of processing of their components. Dioxins and furans are examples of contaminants that result from chlorine bleaching processes. Exposure to dioxins and furans has been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.[iii] Studies have confirmed that tampons contain low levels of dioxins and furans. Pesticide residues have also been found to contaminate tampons made from traditionally grown cotton.[iv] These include pesticides such as Procymidon, which EPA has determined to be a “probable human carcinogen,” and piperonyl butoxide, which has been determined to be a “possible human carcinogen.” Unfortunately, there has been no research or attention to assessing the risk of exposure directly to vaginal tissue from these toxic chemicals. These results, while just a single study of one brand, generate valid concern about the potential for exposure to pesticides from tampons. More research is needed to determine how commonly pesticide residue is found in tampons, and what the health impacts of that exposure may be.

So how toxic are tampons? What we know about the chemicals used in them generate a true concern for women’s health. But unfortunately there are relatively few studies available looking at adverse health outcomes among women who use them. Given the widespread use of these products by women across their lifetime, increased scrutiny and attention are clearly needed.

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