Groundbreaking Report Exposes Chemicals Linked to Cancer in Feminine Care Products
A new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) details how the feminine care industry sells products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals, including preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes.
The report, Chem Fatale, kicks off a campaign that will target Proctor & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, to disclose the ingredients in tampons and pads, and eliminate toxic chemicals. The campaign also wants to encourage consumers to demand more government oversight of the $3 billion feminine care industry.
“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,” Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research and author of the report said in a media release. “Greater scrutiny, oversight and research are badly needed to assure the safety of their ingredients on women’s health.”
Tampons are used by up to 85 percent of menstruating women and may contain dioxins or pesticide residues linked to cancer, hormone disruptors, allergens and irritants from fragrance, WVE said. Feminine wipes, feminine washes and feminine deodorant products contain toxic preservatives like parabens, which may be hormone disruptors, or quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin, which release cancer-causing formaldehyde. Most feminine care products are fragranced and commonly contain known fragrance allergens—including anti-itch products. These chemicals sometimes exacerbate the very symptoms a woman is attempting to self-treat with these products.
According to the report, black and Latina women may be disproportionately affected by these chemicals as they are greater users of products such as douches and feminine wipes. Black women are more likely to use feminine sprays and powders than women of other races and ethnicities.
“It is well known that black women face health disparities for numerous diseases,” said Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, director of environmental health for WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “This report highlights how much more we need to know about the potential impact of feminine care product use on black women’s health.”
Current regulations on chemicals used in feminine care products are insufficient to protect public health, and often don’t require the ingredient disclosure needed to assess safety, according to WVE’s report. Tampons and pads are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies are not required to disclose the ingredients. Other feminine care products that are regulated as cosmetics must label their ingredients, but fragrance ingredients can be kept from consumers.
“Knowledge is power,” said Cristina Aguilar, interim executive director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. “But in this case, we know that many of the most dangerous products that are found to cause chronic diseases also target women of color. The reality is knowledge isn’t enough—Latinas who already have health disparities also face financial, economic, and geographic barriers to accessing safe alternatives.”
The American Public Health Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) specifically recommend against intravaginal cleaning (douching) and have associated the practice with adverse health outcomes such as increased bacterial infections. The ACOG also recommends against use of fragranced tampons and pads, feminine sprays and powders to help prevent or clear up vulvar disorders.
“The chemicals used in these products are a real concern given the inevitable exposure to sensitive and absorptive vulvar and vaginal tissue,” said Dr. Ami Zota, a professor of occupational and environmental health at George Washington University. “There is a clear need for more research on the health effects of these exposures on women’s health.”
The report includes a “Hall of Shame” appendix highlighting examples of feminine care products that contain toxic chemicals by brand name.
In this video, Scranton, the WVE director of science and research, discusses the report findings.
Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.
The Sierra Club released a new analysis Friday that found that transitioning all 1,400+ U.S. Conference of Mayors member-cities to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity will significantly reduce electric sector carbon pollution nationwide and help the U.S. towards meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Watch above as Newsy explains that the decision comes despite serious concerns from the environmental and scientific community, and Tribal Nations about a declining, isolated grizzly bear population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities.
By Francine Kershaw
Seismic airguns exploding in the ocean in search for oil and gas have devastating impacts on zooplankton, which are critical food sources for marine mammals, according to a new study in Nature. The blasting decimates one of the ocean's most vital groups of organisms over huge areas and may disrupt entire ecosystems.
And this devastating news comes on the heels of the National Marine Fisheries Service's proposal to authorize more than 90,000 miles of active seismic blasting. Based on the results of this study, the affected area would be approximately 135,000 square miles.
By Jill Richardson
Is coconut oil:
- good for you
- bad for you
- neither good nor bad
- scientists don't know
The subject of this question is the source of a disagreement. Initially, the question was thought to be settled decades ago, when scientist Ancel Keys declared all saturated fats unhealthy. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is a saturated fat.