Take Care with Personal Products


It is now becoming more common knowledge that chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates, are found in many of our products. Thanks to new scientific research, we now know many of these chemicals can be found in the most personal of these products.

In a recent peer-reviewed journal article, feminine care products, such as pads, panty liners, tampons, and wipes, were evaluated for the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The study, released in March 2020, found that “24 endocrine disruptors were measured in feminine hygiene products” including phthalates, parabens, bisphenols, and triclocarban (Gao and Kannan, 2020).  These chemicals are often used as preservatives and plasticizers in countless personal care products and are associated with a wide range of negative health effects, such as breast cancer. 

The research reported that pad liners had the highest concentration of multiple types of phthalates of all feminine care products that were tested. Tampons were shown to have the highest concentration of one specific phthalate type, DEHP, which has been associated with increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and reproductive problems. Additionally, at least one type of paraben was found in every feminine care product that was evaluated. 

“Women often use multiple feminine hygiene products at the same time,” leading to the potential to “increase the total exposure burden of chemicals from feminine hygiene products” (Gao and Kannan, 2020). This exposure burden, more often referred to as body burden, is the total amount of chemicals that are present in the human body at a given point in time. Some studies have suggested health effects have the potential to occur through continuous exposure to chemicals over a long period of time. This suggests that toxic chemicals, like parabens and phthalates, may remain in our body much longer than we may think.

Although there are no pads or tampons that read “phthalate-free” or “without parabens,” there are still safer alternatives out there! There are some feminine care products, such as Seventh Generation’s organic cotton tampons, that are made without fragrances or chlorine. Menstrual cups made with 100% medical-grade silicone (and without any fragrance!) are also an alternative. 

If you are interested in learning more about toxic chemicals in menstrual products, the advocacy organization Women’s Voices for the Earth has a comprehensive information page about chemicals of concern and other tips for choosing safer feminine care products. 


Source(s): Gao, J.G. & Kannan, K. “Phthalates, bisphenols, parabens, and triclocarban in feminine hygiene products from the United States and their implications for human exposure.” Environment International, 136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105465

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