In the past year, scientists and health professionals have voiced growing concern over the potential risks of using tampons and other personal hygiene products such as diapers. A new briefing paper titled, Why the toxic tampon issue isn’t going away, summarizes the science and the issues surrounding this concern.

Increasing evidence suggests some of these products contain trace levels of toxins that, over time, could pose a significant health risk to those who use them. These toxins include dioxins and phthalates, both classed as endocrine disruptors which are coming under increased scrutiny. New research is now linking the presence of dioxin and phthalates in these products back to the original production process – dioxin from the chlorine used to bleach the material and phthalates which are added to the plastic compounds in these materials. The manufacturers of these products are failing to disclose the use of these harmful chemicals, which is heightening these risks further.

A series of reports and investigations have drawn media attention to this issue, fueling public concern and protest. Notable research includes the 2013 Chem Fatale study which highlighted potential health concerns relating to toxic and allergenic chemicals found in feminine care products, and the 2017 French documentary Tampons, Our Closest Enemy which found evidence of dioxins, phthalates and other carcinogens like furans in six tampon brands.

The film, winner of Best Documentary at the 2018 California Women’s Film Festival film last month, is an international investigation about dangers of the tampons as cases of menstrual toxic shocks are increasing around the world. The film will screen in New York City on March 19th at the Socially Relevant Film Festival.  Click here for more information and for tickets.

About the author:  Rune Leithe is a an international expert on industrial pollution based in Sweden, and is the lead author of the Cleaner Production chapter of the Environmental Paper Network’s forthcoming report, The State of the Global Paper Industry.