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Did you know that, on average, a woman will use over 9,100  tampons in her lifetime, yet companies aren’t required to tell you what they put in them? That’s right. Unbelievably, no federal law exists which requires disclosure of all ingredients in tampons and pads. This means you are left in the dark about what ingredients you are putting on some of the most sensitive and absorptive tissue on your body.
That’s why Women's Voices for the Earth and Seventh Generation are happy to report that Representative Grace Meng is planning to re-introduce a bill to require disclosure of the ingredients used in feminine products such as tampons, pads, and pantiliners.
What's the big deal anyway?
Vaginal tissue is very sensitive, which means we should be extra careful about what’s coming into contact with it. The walls of the vagina are filled with numerous blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, which allows for direct transfer of chemicals in to the circulatory system. In fact, there is considerable interest in vaginal drug delivery systems because the vagina is such an effective site to transfer drugs directly into the blood without being metabolized first.
One study found that a vaginally applied dose of estradiol (an estrogen proxy) resulted in systemic estradiol levels in the body 10 to 80 times greater compared to the same dose given orally . So, you should really know what the heck is in the products you use around the vagina.
The whole truth.
Right now, some companies tell you a little bit about what’s in their products. While tampon and pad manufacturers aren’t required to disclose ingredients, many do include some basic information on their packages about the ingredients — unless they use fragrance. A ‘fragrance’ in a product can be made up of 50-200 different ingredients, many for which health data simply doesn’t exist. This black box means that you could be exposing your body to fragrance ingredients without even knowing it.
We can do better.
Forward-thinking companies are already doing the right thing for women by voluntarily disclosing the ingredients used in their products. And leaders like Seventh Generation are taking the extra step to advocate for transparency industry wide by co-sponsoring the rally in May 2017.
Frankly, I think we are all quite tired of women’s health being put on the back burner (or just thrown off the stove altogether). That’s why we are taking this call directly to the Capitol.
We invite you to learn more and raise your voice!
Erin Switalski is Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national organization that amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. For over 20 years this women’s health non-profit has helped lead the fight to disclose ingredients in cleaning products, fragrance, cosmetics and feminine hygiene products.