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What’s in a Toxic Tampon?

Posted July 16th, 2014


April 4, 2014

A groundbreaking report produced last year by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) detailed how the feminine care industry sells products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, preservatives, fragrances and dyes. The report also kicked off a campaign targeting Proctor & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, to disclose the ingredients in their tampons and pads.

Now, eight months later, WVE takes a look at those ingredients after acquiring public patent documents held by Proctor & Gamble (U.S. Patent #6,840,927).

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Can fragrance disclosure make a big company smell like a rose?

Posted April 4th, 2014


Cassidy Randall

April 4, 2014

It’s time to get specific about the word “fragrance.” A product’s “fragrance” can be made up of 100 chemicals, and the specific chemicals aren’t disclosed to consumers because they’re currently protected as trade secrets.

But the issue of fragrance disclosure — or lack thereof — has come under increasing public scrutiny in the last few years by sophisticated consumers concerned about chemicals exposure from household products. While several alternative and “green” companies have begun listing the ingredients in their fragrances in response to this demand, there remains a lack of leadership from mainstream cleaning companies in this arena.

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33 recalled ‘toxic’ hair straighteners found to still be on U.S markets.

Posted March 21st, 2014

Cosmetics design.com

March 20, 2014

Michelle Yeomans

New research has revealed thirty-three hair-straightening products containing high levels of formaldehyde to still be on US markets, according to the Women’s Voices for the Earth.

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Danger in the drugstore: what women need to know about cosmetics.

Posted March 14th, 2014

The Guardian March 13, 2014 Erin Switalski Conventional wisdom says that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to personal care products and cosmetics. A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics indicates that women use an average of nine personal care products each day, exposing themselves to a mixture of over 100 individual chemicals. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that women had significantly higher levels of 10 of the 116 toxic chemicals they tested for than men. Three of the 10 chemicals were phthalates, a group commonly found in health and beauty products and linked to birth defects (PDF). In fact, almost any chemical

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– including those linked to breast cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and allergies – can be used in cosmetics. Read more.

A Question for Women’s Health: Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants.

Posted March 4th, 2014

Environmental Health Perspectives

March 3, 2014

Nicole Wendee

Vaginal research got a desperately needed boost at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1992. That’s when Penny Hitchcock took over the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Nancy Alexander became chief of the Contraceptive Development Branch in the NIH Center for Population Research—posts previously held by men. “Those two got together and discovered NIH had no programs for vaginal research,” says Richard Cone, a Johns Hopkins biophysics professor. Cone had begun developing vaginal contraceptives that would protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 1980, and until then, struggled to get funding.

Hitchcock and Alexander soon initiated research programs on vaginal physiology, immunology, and microbicides, eventually funding Cone’s work. These new programs led to groundbreaking discoveries in animals and humans that certain chemicals—including glycerin (glycerol), a common base for personal lubricants—can damage or irritate vaginal1 and rectal2 epithelial cells, potentially increasing the transmission of STIs such as herpes and human immunodeficiency virus.

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State cosmetic database focused on chemicals falling short of mission.

Posted February 14th, 2014

San Jose Mercury News

Februrary 12, 2014

Heather Somerville

A widely touted state program to give the public more information about harmful chemicals in cosmetics is falling short of its mission, hobbled by a lack of participation from the cosmetics industry, outdated information and a loophole that lets companies keep their ingredients secret.

Experts say the shortcomings of the California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database, which went online a month ago, reveal the challenges the state faces in trying to impose transparency on a national $60 billion industry that had been allowed to keep harmful ingredients off product labels.

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Corporations’ ‘Trade Secrets’ Trump Public Health.

Posted February 12th, 2014

Common Dreams

January 31, 2014

Andrea Germanos

New database created to let consumers know if personal care products contain carcinogens, but ‘trade secrets’ claim lets companies skirt transparency.

Corporate power seems to be thwarting the public’s right to know if the personal care products they use contain potentially harmful ingredients. Selsun Blue is one of the products that lists trade secret for an ingredient. As a result of the California Safe Cosmetics Act, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) earlier this month rolled out a searchable database through which consumers could see if their personal care products contain carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

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22 Cosmetics Companies File for ‘Trade Secret’ Status to Skirt Toxins Law.

Posted February 5th, 2014

Eco Watch

January 30, 2014

Twenty-two companies have requested trade secret status to avoid telling the public about toxic chemicals found in nearly 1,500 cosmetic products included in the new California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. The database was released earlier this month as part of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires companies to report ingredients in their cosmetic products that are considered carcinogens or reproductive toxins under Proposition 65.

Women’s Voices for the Earth’s recent analysis shows that more than 20 companies—including the makers of Dial, Right Guard, Tresemme, Nexxus, Gold Bond, Selsun Blue, and even “green” brands like CHI Organics—are attempting to skirt the intent of the California’s Safe Cosmetics Act by avoiding public ingredient disclosure in the state’s new database.

Are your tampons toxic? How many feminine care products ‘contain undisclosed ingredients’ linked to allergic rashes, asthma and cancer.

Posted January 14th, 2014

Daily Mail Online

December 23, 2013

Sadie Whitelocks

A new report sheds light on the potentially harmful chemicals found in feminine care products and calls for a stronger regulation of ingredients.

Chem Fetale, issued by the Montana-based health advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth, focuses on the undisclosed substances contained in tampons, sanitary towels and wipes, such as preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes.

Toxic tampons: How ordinary feminine care products could be hurting women.

Posted January 7th, 2014


December 22, 2013

Laura Kiesel

Nowadays, we hear a lot about the noxious cocktail of chemicals that can be found in our food, furniture, cleaning products and even our cosmetics. Yet we never really hear about what might be included in some of the most intimate personal care products women use.

“Chem Fatale” — a report recently released by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) — attempts to shed some light on this subject by taking aim at the $3-billion-a-year feminine care industry. In particular, the group examines products such as maxi pads, tampons and douches that contain potentially harmful ingredients including pesticides, dyes and dioxin, which has been identified by the World Health Organization as a Persistent Organic Pollutant, a toxic chemical that persists in environments for long periods of time. The report also includes a “Hall of Shame” appendix that features examples of feminine care brands that contain toxic chemicals.

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