Organic Panty Liners Pulled From Shelves After Traces of Glyphosate Found
The French consumer rights group 60 Million Consumers has released a report warning women that a number of feminine care products such as tampons, sanitary napkins and panty liners may contain trace amounts of potentially toxic substances such as pesticides, dioxins and glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller that has been linked to cancer.
Popular brands such as O.B., Tampax, Always and the European brand Nett were faulted in the report. A "surprising" discovery, as the report noted, was the detection of pesticides and insecticides in Always sanitary napkins even though they are made of viscose and cellulose, not cotton.
Small amounts of glyphosate were also found in panty liners sold by the brand Organyc, which touts only using organic cotton.
Des traces de dioxines dans des tampons périodiques: notre journaliste @VictoireNsonde en parle sur @BFMTV https://t.co/Va6KImrfsw— 60 Millions de consommateurs (@60 Millions de consommateurs)1456208737.0
Although the traces of chemicals were small, this does not completely reassure the consumer group, which is demanding these brands shed light on the composition and manufacturing process of their products.
"It's not because the rates are low we can guarantee zero risk," said tester Dr. Jean-Marc Bohbot, a infectious diseases specialist and medical director at the Fournier Institute in Paris, in a statement (via Google translate). "In the absence of studies on the systemic absorption of each substance from the vagina, we can not conclude anything."
Glyphosate is the most popular weedkiller in the world. Last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) infamously classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen, although Roundup maker Monsanto and other regulatory agencies have maintained its safety.
Still, many other scientific organizations and environmental groups such as Greenpeace have sought more research and regulation on this controversial chemical. Earlier this month, Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, called for a ban on glyphosate mixed with certain additives (or basically Roundup) due to its perceived risks to human health.
French Ecology Minister Calls for Ban on #Glyphosate Formulations https://t.co/SjyDTIhsvr #Monsanto @nongmoreport https://t.co/WdOqMru4vC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1455651663.0
Following the release of the 60 Million Consumers report, Organyc's Italian manufacturer Corman conducted its own tests and “confirmed residual traces of glyphosate” in its panty liners and recalled 3,100 boxes of them from shelves in France and Canada, according to The Guardian.
“We don’t think it is dangerous, it’s simply a precautionary measure, because our priority is the safety and health of our consumers,” a Corman spokeswoman told the publication.
Corman said that while only 25 nanograms per gram were detected, “these traces should not be present in organic cotton.” The company says it will investigate its suppliers, mainly in the U.S. and India.
In response to the report, Procter & Gamble, which manufactures Always sanitary pads and Tampax tampons, told The Guardian that its products are “proven to be harmless” but that the company would improve communication about their contents.
Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures o.b. and Nett tampons, said they only use materials "respecting all the safety criteria" in its products.
Since the report's release, a petition has been launched in France to call for more information about the chemicals used in tampons and sanitary products, French website The Local reported. The petition has already garnered 180,000 signatures.
"When we buy cosmetic products we can get information on what they contain and how they are made, but when it comes to something we use everyday that is in contact with our intimate parts, we have no knowledge of what is in it," said Mélanie Doerflinger, a student who launched the petition told BFM TV, according to The Local.
This is not the first time that glyphosate has been identified in menstrual products. EcoWatch previously covered a study from researchers at the University of La Plata in Argentina which revealed that glyphosate was detected in 85 percent of cotton hygiene products tested.
85% of Tampons Contain Monsanto's 'Cancer Causing' Glyphosate https://t.co/oW2Q2LcHMt https://t.co/vjZYUqklYT— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1445881632.0
Most tampons currently sold in the U.S. are made of non-organic cotton, rayon or blends of both, Mother Jones reported. Additionally, synthetic fibers like viscose rayon are added to increase absorbency.
A New Zealand woman, Ana Ames-Durey, was advised to switch to organic tampons after a health scare sent her to the hospital. She soon realized, however, there weren’t any viable options in the market and decided to launch her own organic tampon company, BON, to fill the gap.
BON says their tampons are 100 percent certified organic cotton with no dyes, fragrances, chemicals or toxins.
Health Scare Led This Woman to Launch an Organic Tampon Company https://t.co/f9VqR7FpIM @foeeurope @earthisland— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1454899818.0
“It really is about giving people healthier and safer options, to live the best life they can,” the actress and entrepreneur told Cosmopolitan last July. “This is one category that’s very sensitive. The products are going in and around the most vulnerable part of a woman’s body.”
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By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich
Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.
Mapping Social Vulnerability<p>Figure 1a is a typical map of social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract level based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) algorithm of <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002" target="_blank"><em>Cutter et al.</em></a> . Spatial representation of the index depicts high social vulnerability regionally in the Southwest, upper Great Plains, eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, and southern Appalachia, among other places. With such a map, users can focus attention on select places and identify population characteristics associated with elevated vulnerabilities.</p>
Fig. 1. (a) Social vulnerability across the United States at the census tract scale is mapped here following the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI). Red and pink hues indicate high social vulnerability. (b) This bivariate map depicts social vulnerability (blue hues) and annualized per capita hazard losses (pink hues) for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019.<p>Many current indexes in the United States and abroad are direct or conceptual offshoots of SoVI, which has been widely replicated [e.g., <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-016-0090-9" target="_blank"><em>de Loyola Hummell et al.</em></a>, 2016]. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) <a href="https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html" target="_blank">has also developed</a> a commonly used social vulnerability index intended to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, and after disasters.</p><p>The first modeling and mapping efforts, starting around the mid-2000s, largely focused on describing spatial distributions of social vulnerability at varying geographic scales. Over time, research in this area came to emphasize spatial comparisons between social vulnerability and physical hazards [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-009-9376-1" target="_blank"><em>Wood et al.</em></a>, 2010], modeling population dynamics following disasters [<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11111-008-0072-y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Myers et al.</em></a>, 2008], and quantifying the robustness of social vulnerability measures [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0152-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate</em></a>, 2012].</p><p>More recent work is beginning to dissolve barriers between social vulnerability and environmental justice scholarship [<a href="https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304846" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chakraborty et al.</em></a>, 2019], which has traditionally focused on root causes of exposure to pollution hazards. Another prominent new research direction involves deeper interrogation of social vulnerability drivers in specific hazard contexts and disaster phases (e.g., before, during, after). Such work has revealed that interactions among drivers are important, but existing case studies are ill suited to guiding development of new indicators [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.09.013" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Rufat et al.</em></a>, 2015].</p><p>Advances in geostatistical analyses have enabled researchers to characterize interactions more accurately among social vulnerability and hazard outcomes. Figure 1b depicts social vulnerability and annualized per capita hazard losses for U.S. counties from 2010 to 2019, facilitating visualization of the spatial coincidence of pre‑event susceptibilities and hazard impacts. Places ranked high in both dimensions may be priority locations for management interventions. Further, such analysis provides invaluable comparisons between places as well as information summarizing state and regional conditions.</p><p>In Figure 2, we take the analysis of interactions a step further, dividing counties into two categories: those experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019. The differences among individual race, ethnicity, and poverty variables between the two county groups are small. But expressing race together with poverty (poverty attenuated by race) produces quite different results: Counties with high hazard losses have higher percentages of both impoverished Black populations and impoverished white populations than counties with low hazard losses. These county differences are most pronounced for impoverished Black populations.</p>
Fig. 2. Differences in population percentages between counties experiencing annual per capita losses above or below the national average from 2010 to 2019 for individual and compound social vulnerability indicators (race and poverty).<p>Our current work focuses on social vulnerability to floods using geostatistical modeling and mapping. The research directions are twofold. The first is to develop hazard-specific indicators of social vulnerability to aid in mitigation planning [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04470-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tate et al.</em></a>, 2021]. Because natural hazards differ in their innate characteristics (e.g., rate of onset, spatial extent), causal processes (e.g., urbanization, meteorology), and programmatic responses by government, manifestations of social vulnerability vary across hazards.</p><p>The second is to assess the degree to which socially vulnerable populations benefit from the leading disaster recovery programs [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1675578" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Emrich et al.</em></a>, 2020], such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) <a href="https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Individual Assistance</a> program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) <a href="https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Disaster Recovery</a> program. Both research directions posit social vulnerability indicators as potential measures of social equity.</p>
Social Vulnerability as a Measure of Equity<p>Given their focus on social marginalization and economic barriers, social vulnerability indicators are attracting growing scientific interest as measures of inequity resulting from disasters. Indeed, social vulnerability and inequity are related concepts. Social vulnerability research explores the differential susceptibilities and capacities of disaster-affected populations, whereas social equity analyses tend to focus on population disparities in the allocation of resources for hazard mitigation and disaster recovery. Interventions with an equity focus emphasize full and equal resource access for all people with unmet disaster needs.</p><p>Yet newer studies of inequity in disaster programs have documented troubling disparities in income, race, and home ownership among those who <a href="https://eos.org/articles/equity-concerns-raised-in-federal-flood-property-buyouts" target="_blank">participate in flood buyout programs</a>, are <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063477407" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eligible for postdisaster loans</a>, receive short-term recovery assistance [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.102010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Drakes et al.</em></a>, 2021], and have <a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/25/texas-natural-disasters--mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">access to mental health services</a>. For example, a recent analysis of federal flood buyouts found racial privilege to be infused at multiple program stages and geographic scales, resulting in resources that disproportionately benefit whiter and more urban counties and neighborhoods [<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023120905439" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Elliott et al.</em></a>, 2020].</p><p>Investments in disaster risk reduction are largely prioritized on the basis of hazard modeling, historical impacts, and economic risk. Social equity, meanwhile, has been far less integrated into the considerations of public agencies for hazard and disaster management. But this situation may be beginning to shift. Following the adage of "what gets measured gets managed," social equity metrics are increasingly being inserted into disaster management.</p><p>At the national level, FEMA has <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/20200220/fema-releases-affordability-framework-national-flood-insurance-program" target="_blank">developed options</a> to increase the affordability of flood insurance [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2018]. At the subnational scale, Puerto Rico has integrated social vulnerability into its CDBG Mitigation Action Plan, expanding its considerations of risk beyond only economic factors. At the local level, Harris County, Texas, has begun using social vulnerability indicators alongside traditional measures of flood risk to introduce equity into the prioritization of flood mitigation projects [<a href="https://www.hcfcd.org/Portals/62/Resilience/Bond-Program/Prioritization-Framework/final_prioritization-framework-report_20190827.pdf?ver=2019-09-19-092535-743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Harris County Flood Control District</em></a>, 2019].</p><p>Unfortunately, many existing measures of disaster equity fall short. They may be unidimensional, using single indicators such as income in places where underlying vulnerability processes suggest that a multidimensional measure like racialized poverty (Figure 2) would be more valid. And criteria presumed to be objective and neutral for determining resource allocation, such as economic loss and cost-benefit ratios, prioritize asset value over social equity. For example, following the <a href="http://www.cedar-rapids.org/discover_cedar_rapids/flood_of_2008/2008_flood_facts.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2008 flooding</a> in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cost-benefit criteria supported new flood protections for the city's central business district on the east side of the Cedar River but not for vulnerable populations and workforce housing on the west side.</p><p>Furthermore, many equity measures are aspatial or ahistorical, even though the roots of marginalization may lie in systemic and spatially explicit processes that originated long ago like redlining and urban renewal. More research is thus needed to understand which measures are most suitable for which social equity analyses.</p>
Challenges for Disaster Equity Analysis<p>Across studies that quantify, map, and analyze social vulnerability to natural hazards, modelers have faced recurrent measurement challenges, many of which also apply in measuring disaster equity (Table 1). The first is clearly establishing the purpose of an equity analysis by defining characteristics such as the end user and intended use, the type of hazard, and the disaster stage (i.e., mitigation, response, or recovery). Analyses using generalized indicators like the CDC Social Vulnerability Index may be appropriate for identifying broad areas of concern, whereas more detailed analyses are ideal for high-stakes decisions about budget allocations and project prioritization.</p>
By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.