We live in the age of informed consumerism. With a few clicks, we can find out what ingredients are in the foods we eat and the products we use – but have you ever stopped to consider what’s in your pads and tampons? Don't worry, you're not alone, most women haven’t, but it is a bit concerning when you find out what ingredients they contain:
So, you might be thinking to yourself, "Okay, I didn't think my pads and tampons were made out of wood pulp, but that's not that weird" or, "Synthetic fibres are just more absorbent so who cares" and, "Okay the last two are a bit concerning, but someone is checking to make sure these products are safe!". Unfortunately that might not be the case.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is the government body that is the “Consumer watchdog in America’s healthcare system” (FDA, 2017), but because feminine hygiene products fall under the “medical devices” category, they do not actually require companies to disclose their ingredients. They do however require these companies to monitor their finished products for things like dioxin, but these levels are not available to the public (NCHR, 2015). Why, you ask? Probably because according to the World Health Organization,
"Dioxins are highly toxic [group of chemicals] that can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer." (WHO, 2016)
So now you’re probably thinking, “Wait… WHAT?” And have some follow up questions like, “Where does this dioxin come from? How is it getting into my pads and tampons?” - These are all great questions. Dioxin is actually a result of the manufacturing process. The wood pulp mentioned above is made into the synthetic fiber Rayon by undergoing chlorine dioxide bleaching, which produces dioxin as a chemical byproduct.
Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University, shines some light on the process by highlighting that, “the amount of dioxin in tampons is low today in comparison to when manufacturers used different bleaching methods”. However, “it’s still present, and its effect is cumulative.” Tierno - who has spent decades looking into the health issues surrounding feminine care products - believes, “Even if your dioxin exposure from each tampon is very small, a lifetime of tampon use could theoretically increase your risks for disease (TIME, 2016).
This is something to really think about. As a menstruating human you’re likely going to use approximately 10,000 feminine hygiene products for 30 – 40 years of your life. That's 30 - 40 years of repeated exposure to a product you intimately trust.
While this is a heavily debated topic of contention online, some research suggests that the levels of dioxin traceable in traditional feminine hygiene brands is negligible and therefore not a cause for concern. And even at the government level, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have differing opinions. The FDA says low - level exposure is acceptable, but the EPA states that no level of dioxin exposure is safe (EPA, 2017).
There is a great way to get around this debate. Use 100% organic cotton pads and tampons. 100% Organic cotton pads and tampons are a great solution to safely keep using products you already love and trust. Cotton is absorbent, renewable, sustainable, soft, breathable, comfortable and perfect for sensitive skin. Organic cotton tampons work in the same way other non-organic cotton tampons do, but without all the extra ingredients.
That is why at ElleBox, we only send you 100% organic cotton feminine hygiene to your doorstep every month, in time, for your time, every time.
What it really comes down to is your informed opinion to make a choice that is right for you. Head over to our friends at ElleBox to learn more.
ElleBox is a subscription box service catered to your period. Get 100% organic cotton feminine hygiene delivered to your door every month, in time, for your time, every time. Change the way you experience your period.
Written by Jessica (Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer)