Testing Reveals Toxic Chemicals in Procter & Gamble’s Always Pads

Testing Reveals Toxic Chemicals in Procter & Gamble’s Always Pads

STAT Analysis results reveal secret carcinogens and reproductive toxins

MISSOULA, MT, October 14, 2014—A national women’s health nonprofit has released independent product-testing results that reveal undisclosed toxic chemicals in Always menstrual pads.

In August Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) commissioned STAT Analysis to analyze volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in scented, unscented, and Infinity versions of ultra-thin pads sold under the Always brand, which is manufactured by consumer-product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G).

The results of the testing indicate that both scented and unscented Always pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency, as carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins. The manufacturer discloses none of these chemicals on the product.

Some chemicals of concern detected include styrene (a human carcinogen), chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant), chloroethane (a carcinogen), chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant, and neurotoxin), and acetone (an irritant). These chemicals also have industrial uses such as in the manufacturing of car tires, nail-polish remover, and Styrofoam, as well as in petroleum refining.

“Millions of women use these products on a monthly basis on an exceptionally sensitive and absorptive part of the body,” said WVE’s director of science and research, Alexandra Scranton. “Toxic chemicals like these have no place in a product meant to support women’s health. At the very least, disclosure of the ingredients used in these products is necessary so that women can have the information they need to make safe choices to protect their reproductive health.”

“The results demonstrate the need for more testing of these products to better understand the chemical exposures and potential health risks associated with these products,” explained Ami Zota, assistant professor of public health at George Washington University, noting the general dearth of scientific research about how personal-care products impact women’s health.

Currently, the FDA classifies tampons and pads as medical devices, which means ingredient disclosure is not required the way it is with cosmetics. WVE staff hopes that these test results will lead to better regulation of feminine products, requiring disclosure of ingredients, and to support for more research to help protect women’s health.

The Robin Danielson Act was recently introduced in Congress, which would require more research on the risks posed by the presence of chemical fragrances, synthetic fibers, and chemicals like dioxin in tampons and pads.

“We need more information on the presence of chemical contaminants in menstrual hygiene products. The Robin Danielson Act would invest in new research to help women better understand the risks associated with hygiene products so that they can make informed decisions about their health,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who introduced the bill last spring.

Along with the test results, WVE has joined with consumer advocate Andrea Donsky to deliver more than 21,000 signatures to P&G asking the company to list all ingredients and remove toxic chemicals.

“Because sanitary pads are considered to be a ‘medical device,’ the ingredients don’t have to be listed on the label or disclosed by the manufacturer,” explained Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy.com. “To date, we have collected more than 21,000 signatures from women and men across North America who believe we have the right to know what the ingredients are in feminine-hygiene products women use on a daily or monthly basis.”

The release of the Always test results mark the latest escalation of Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “Detox the Box” campaign, which so far has included a scientific report, Chem Fatale, and a spoof music video calling on the world’s largest feminine-product manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, to disclose and remove potentially harmful ingredients from Tampax and Always brands.

Learn more at womensvoices.org/DetoxTheBox.


“The fact that there are reproductive toxicants in products that are made for women is incredibly alarming,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire, director of public affairs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Women have a right to know if there are chemicals that could harm their reproductive health in pads that are used for several days, on a monthly basis, on some of the most absorptive skin on their bodies. Products like these pose particular harm to Latinas, who are less likely to have access to health care and more likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals at home and at work.”

Kimberly Inez McGuire, Director of Public Affairs, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

“Corporate companies such as Tampax and Always have devised manipulative, marketable messaging in order to ‘miseducate’ young women about feminine care—and manipulate women who trust these products. Companies must disclose ingredients and make them accessible so that women will know what chemicals to look out for—such as chloroform and chloromethane, both of which are reproductive toxins. This is a reproductive justice issue and a fundamental human rights issue that we must expose.”
Cristina Aguilar, Executive Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

“Young women of all ages and backgrounds are facing a serious problem. From the results of this study, it’s obvious that we’re not being told the whole story, or the truth. In this case we stand with young women globally to demand transparency and their right to health. Ethical companies dedicated to the wellbeing of people and our ​planet have already proven their product’s efficacy, without the need for toxic chemicals.”
Ashley Ugarte, President, Teens Turning Green

“The time has come for us to hold companies accountable for products that contain carcinogens, teratogens, and all other harmful chemicals that inhibit the growth and development the of adults and children. We must begin to think about the importance of using the precautionary principle. In order to build healthy communities, we must have healthy products and protective policies.”

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, WEACT for Environmental Justice

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office
Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747, office


Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at womensvoices.org.