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Conventional Tampons are

Toxic and Not Sustainable

archive 13/05/15

At a glance
Tampons may contain toxic disinfection byproducts from the chlorine-bleaching process as well as pesticides
and GMOs.
Vaginal tissues are more permeable than the rest of your skin, making them especially vulnerable to chemicals.
Tampons may also contain super absorbent gels, synthetic musk's, phthalates, synthetic odor absorbers and

The fact that personal care products like lotion,

deodorant, and cosmetics often contain toxic
ingredients is becoming more common knowledge. As a result, many men and women alike
have chosen to opt for natural alternatives and
some companies have even removes questionable
The same cannot be said, however for most feminine hygiene products, including tampons and
Classified as medical devices instead of personal
care products by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), companies do not have to disclose the
ingredients they contain.
Most tampons, for instance are made from cotton, rayon or another pulp fiber, but these materials may contain toxic disinfection by byproducts
from the
chlorine bleaching process, including dioxins and
furans, as well as pesticides from non-organic,
often genetically modified (GM) cotton.
Meanwhile, from a sustainability perspective, disposable tampons and pads are far from being environmentally friendly but available alternatives
have not been widely accepted into the mainstream.

It may take centuries or more or more for a

tampon to degrade in landfill
Feminine hygiene pads alone are a multi-billion dollar industry.
Another 100 million women use tampons globally, and its
estimated that one woman uses 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.
Each of those tampons along with pads, can take centuries to
break down in landfill especially if theyre wrapped in plastic
before being thrown away.
While many municipalities are discussing methods to discourage
the use of plastic bags, plastic-laden feminine hygiene products
add the equivalent of 180 billion bags to our waste stream,
according to Naturally Savvy. Alternative reusable options
include silicone menstrual cups and cloth pads and liners. Sophie
Zivku, communications and education director for DivaCup, told
The Guardian:
The paper feminine hygiene industry has done a very good
job of convincing women that their period is something
which should be out of sight and out of mind, something
they shouldn't talk about
Think about the advertisements we seeits all about silent
wrappers, discrete and smaller products that are easier to
hide or dispose of, and concealing the fact you have your
period. Without opportunities for positive period talk,
women and girls may not have the opportunity to learn
about or even as about other more sustainable options.

Page 2

Conventional Tampons are Toxic and Not Sustainable

Your vagina is especially vulnerable to chemicals and irritants

If theres one place where you
want to be sure only the purest
of materials are introduced, its
your vagina. Vulva and vaginal
tissues are more permeable
that the rest of your skin,
making them especially
vulnerable to chemicals and
other irritants.
With mucous membranes,
numerous blood vessel and
lymphatic vessels, the vagina
provides a direct entryway for
chemicals to circulate through
the rest of your body. Plus,
tampons are left in place for
hours at a time, for several days
each month, adding quite a bit

of cumulative exposure time.

This is why, when creating my
line of premium feminine
hygiene products, my team
sourced only 100%
hypoallergenic organic cotton
for tampons and covered them
with a special cotton safety
layer to help prevent fibers
from remaining inside your
Research has shown that not
only are chemicals rapidly absorbed and circulated through
the rest of your body via your
vagina, but some chemicals, like
hormone-mimicking substances,
may lead to higher than

expected exposures in the rest

of your body.
For instance, a vaginally applied
does of estradiol resulted in
systemic estradiol levels 10 to
80 times higher than resulted
from the same dose taken
orally. Another area of concern surrounds cancer-causing
chemicals, of which little research has been done regarding
their direct exposure to the
Studies show that dioxin, a
potential byproduct of the
chlorine-bleaching process,
collects in your fatty tissues,
and according to a draft report

by the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA),
dioxin is a serious public health
threat that has no safe level of
exposure! Published reports
show that even low or trace
levels of dioxins may be linked

Abnormal tissue growth in

the abdomen and

Abnormal cell growth

throughout the body

Immune system suppression

Hormonal and endocrine
system disruption

FDA recommends no Dioxin in tampons, but trace levels exist

Cotton is considered
the worlds dirtiest
crop due to its heavy
use of insecticides,
the most hazardous
pesticide to human
and animal health

What else is lurking in your

feminine hygiene products? If
you use non-organic versions,
pesticides. One of the primary
reasons why organic cotton is
better, even for clothing but
especially for tampons and pads,
is because of what it doesnt
contain, namely a heavy load of
some of the most hazardous
insecticides on the market.
According to the Organic
Trade Association:
Cotton is considered
the worlds dirtiest
crop due to its heavy
use of insecticides, the
most hazardous
pesticide to human and
animal health. Cotton
covers 2.5% of the
worlds cultivated land
yet uses 16% of the
worlds insecticides,
more than any other
single major crop.
Aldicarb, parathion and
methamidophos, three
of the most acutely
hazardous insecticide

to human health as
determined by the
World Health
Organization (WHO),
rank in the top ten
most commonly used in
cotton production. All
but one of the
remaining seven most
commonly used are
classified as moderately
to highly hazardous.
Aldicarb, cottons second best-selling
insecticide and most
acutely poisonous to
humans, can kill a man
with just one drop
absorbed through the
skin, yet it is still used
in 25 countries and the
US, where 16 states
have reported it in
their groundwater.
Not to mention, 91 percent of
the cotton planted in the US is
genetically modified. The 2002
introduction of the Monsanto's
Bt cotton, which is genetically
modified to produce a toxin
from the bacteria Bacillus

thuringiensis (Bt) that is deadly

to the bollworm, was supposed
to lead to a reduction in the
use of insecticides on cotton
crops for farmers in the
developing world (where 99
percent of all cotton farmers
But Bt cotton requires more
pesticide sprayings than
indigenous cottonMANY
times more. Bt cotton has
created new resistant pests, and
to control these, farmers must
use 13 times more pesticides
than they were using prior to
its introduction.
Plus, with all of the health risks
emerging from consuming
GMO foods, what might the
consequences be of inserting a
GM tampon into your vagina
for days each month?
Such questions have yet to be

Page 3

Hormone-Disrupting Carcinogenic Chemicals may lurk in

Aside from pesticides, traces of
dioxin, and GMOs, if youre
using scented tampons be
aware that such products may
contain any of the nearly 3,000
fragrance chemicals in use. But,
again, they probably wont be
listed on the label.
An analysis by Womens Voices
for the Earth (WVE) which
acquired public paten
documents held by Proctor and
Gamble (the maker of Tampax
and Always), showed the
following chemicals may also be
in your tampons:

Creped cellulose wadding

Meltblown polymers

Chemically stiffened fibres,

polyester fibres, peat moss, foam

Tissue wraps and laminates

Super absorbent gels and opencelled foams

Myreth-3-myristate (as lubricant)

(US Patent #5,591,123)

Natural and synthetic zeolites (as

odour-absorbing particles)

Alcohol ethoxylates

Glycerol esters, polysorbate-20

(as surfactants to disperse

Unnamed antibacterial agents (US

Patent #8,585,668)

Cancer-causing chemicals such as:

styrene, pyridine, methyleugenol
and butylated hydroxyanisole
(scented products)

Phthalates of concern (DEP and


Synthetic musk's (potential

hormone disruptors)
(scented products)

Numerous allergens
(scented products)

Superabsorbent fibers in tampons may increase

Toxic Shock Syndrome risk
Tampons can create a favorable
environment for bacteria
growth. Micro tears in your
vaginal wall from tampons may
allow bacteria to enter and
accumulate. One recognized
risk from tampon use is Toxic
Shock Syndrome (TSS), which
may be caused by poisonous
toxins from either
Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or
group A streptococcus (strep)

However, TSS has also been

associated with superabsorbent
fibers in tampons, such as
rayon, a cellulose fiber made
from wood pulp. Many
conventional tampons are
manufactured with a blend of
cotton and rayon because it
costs less and absorbs more
liquid. But according to the
Mayo Clinic:
Researchers don't
know exactly how
tampons cause toxic
shock syndrome.

Some believe that

when superabsorbent
tampons are left in
place for a long time,
the tampons become a
breeding ground for
bacteria. Others have
suggested that the
superabsorbent fibers
in the tampons can
scratch the surface of
the vagina, making it
possible for bacteria or
their toxins to enter the

To minimize your risk of this potentially lifethreatening condition:

Avoid super absorbent tampons
choose the lowest absorbency
rate to handle your flow

Never leave a tampon inserted

overnight; use overnight pads

Alternate the use of tampons with Change tampons at least every 4-6
sanitary napkins or mini-pads
during your period

(scented products)

TSS can be a life-threatening

condition, so its important to
recognize the signs and
symptoms. Should any of the
following symptoms arise while
using tampons during your
period, make sure you seek
medical help:

Sudden high fever



Low blood pressure


Rash on palms or soles

or feet

Muscle Aches

Redness of your eyes,

mouth, and/or throat

When inserting a tampon, be

extremely careful not to scratch
your vaginal lining (avoid plastic

Do not use a tampon between


MoonCup: Alternative


Were on the

Safer Alternatives for Feminine Care

Many of todays feminine hygiene products are made primarily from rayon, viscose and cellulose wood fluff pulp not cotton let alone
organic cotton. Rayon and viscose present a potential danger in part of their highly absorbent fibers.
When used in tampons these fibers can stick to your vaginal wall, and when you remove the tampon, the loosened fibers stay behind
inside your body, thereby raising your risk of TSS. However to be clear, the FDA notes that tampons made with rayon do not appear to
have a higher risk of TSS than cotton tampons of similar absorbency.
It is the absorbency level that appears to have the greatest association, with higher absorbency products linked to increased TSS risk.
Fortunately, there are safer alternatives, and since the FDA regulates tampon absorbency, all tampons on the market must meet the same
absorption guidelines. According to Dr.Phillip Tierno, a clinical professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU Medical Centre, 100
percent cotton tampons consistently test under detectable levels for TSS toxins.
This is just one reason why my line of feminine hygiene products is made with only certified organic or natural cottonmore naturally
breathable fiber that may be healthier for your body and the earth. Not only are there NO synthetic fibers in the Mercola line of
personal products, but every tampon and pad also contains a special security veil.
This veil, a soft, breathable cotton cover, provides double insurance against any part of the cotton separating from the tampon or pad.
My Premium Personal Care line, including organic tampons, natural cotton panty liners, and sanitary pads are also:

Chlorine and toxin free

Keeps potentially dangerous substances away from your most intimate body parts

Synthetic free
For a softer and plastic-less feel

Wood fluff pulp-free

Breathable, absorbent and saves trees too

Hypoallergenic and soothing

Especially for those with sensitive skin

Easy and comfortable to use.

If your want to get involved in the push for full disclosure labeling, Naturally Savvy has created a petition asking Procter and Gamble to
disclose the ingredients in their feminine hygiene products.