Green Tip: Toxic feminine care products?

Green Tips | March 20, 2018

A growing body of research shows that many feminine care products contain potentially harmful chemicals—including parabens, dioxins, phthalates, undisclosed fragrances, and more—that may lead to cancer, reproductive issues, disrupt hormones, or cause allergic reactions. These products—tampons, pads, sprays, wipes, washes, etc.—are used by the vast majority of women throughout their adult years in the U.S., meaning continuous, prolonged exposure.

Unfortunately, research also shows that black and Latina women are disproportionately impacted by the threats posed by the chemicals in these products. Many people are surprised to hear that the Food and Drug Administration does not require testing for all chemicals before using them in feminine care products. The FDA also does not require companies to fully disclose the presence of all chemicals in these products.

This lack of oversight and the fact that feminine care products are used in particularly sensitive areas means that it’s important to be an informed consumer. We must also urge our leaders and decision-makers to make protecting women from harmful chemicals a priority. With help from our friends at Women’s Voices for the Earth, we bring you some basic tips for avoiding these chemicals during your next period.

1) Opt for unscented products when available. Fragrances involve a whole other mess of undisclosed, potentially allergy-inducing, chemicals.

2) Look for brands that do disclose ingredients.

3) Use this chemicals of concern fact sheet when you go shopping.

4) Seek 100% cotton products. Many brands blend cotton with plastics and other synthetic materials, which can include unknown potentially harmful ingredients.

5) Choose chlorine-free bleach or unbleached tampons and pads.  

6) Avoid using more than you need. Explore reusable products, like a menstrual cup, washable pads or underwear. This will help you cut down on waste too!

 7) If you start having a negative reaction to a product, switch brands, then tell the company why you’re switching!

8)  Report any adverse reactions possibly resulting from a product to the FDA (1-800-332-1088).

9) Share this information with your friends and family! For more information check out Women’s Voices for the Earth’s 2013 report, Chem Fatale.

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