Unacceptable Levels

by Tokunbo Awoshakin

A study in the United States has shown that makers of sanitary pads and tampons include asbestos in their products, especially those going to developing countries. The reason for this, the study asserts, is simply because asbestos make you bleed more…if you bleed more, you’re going to need to use more of the product.

The report urged women generally, and black women in particular, especially those in the developing countries, to check the labels of the sanitary pads or tampons that they buy at all times. It also claims that the practice may be responsible for ailments like cervical cancer and womb tumours.

According to the study, regulating bodies have not outlawed the practice of including asbestos in sanitary pad and tampons, despite its negative health implications, because these bodies do not consider sanitary pads and tampons as a product that is ingested.

Interestingly, similar studies have shown that tampons are particularly dangerous, not only because they contain asbestos which can lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome, but also because they contain two other potentially harmful things namely: Rayon (for absorbency), and dioxin (a chemical used in bleaching the products).

Makers of sanitary pads and tampons are, however, convinced that women need bleached white products in order to view the product as pure and clean. The problem here is that the dioxin produced in this bleaching process can lead to very harmful problems for a woman. Dioxin is potentially carcinogenic (cancer-associated) and is toxic to the immune and reproductive systems. It has also been linked to endometriosis and lower sperm counts for men. It also breaks down the immune system.

Investigations reveal that last September, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that there really is no set “acceptable” level of exposure to dioxin, given that it is cumulative and slow to disintegrate. The real danger comes from repeated contact. The question is when does this happen? An average woman menstruates for 4-5 days each months and uses an average of 2-3 sanitary pads a day. Shouldn’t this be considered “repeated use” over a period of a year?

The fact, according to the latest study, is that rayon contributes to the danger of some tampons and sanitary pads because thin fibres from the tampons and pads are left behind in the vagina, creating a breeding ground for the dioxin. It also stays in a lot longer than it would with just cotton tampons. This is also the reason why (toxic shock syndrome) occurs.

The study also suggests some alternatives that include using feminine hygiene products that aren’t bleached and that are all cotton. Other feminine hygiene products like pads and napkins contain dioxin as well, but they are not nearly as dangerous since they are not in direct contact with the vaginal opening. There should be a call to stop the bleaching of pads and napkins too, but tampons are more dangerous.

So, what can you do if you can’t give up using tampons? Use unbleached tampons that are made from 100% cotton. Unfortunately, there are very few companies that make these safe tampons. They are usually only found in health food stores. Countries all over the world, including Sweden, Germany, British Columbia and others have demanded a Change to this safer tampon. Interestingly, women in the United States, Nigeria and other developing nations still go on using tampons and sanitary pads, without being aware of the flip side. The manufacturers are not talking, neither are the authorities.

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1 comment

Anonymous January 24, 2006 - 7:46 am

This was not a study– it was an Internet email. And it's not true. Journalists are supposed to check their facts. Check yours!


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