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Women in South Korea Are Taking on Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products!

South Korea Women Rally for Safe Feminine Care Products

Women in South Korea Moving Market, Decision Makers to Address Toxic Chemicals in Menstrual Pads

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Alex Scranton
Director of Science and Research

Check out our sisters in S. Korea who are actively raising concerns about toxic chemicals in feminine products and being heard! An extraordinary series of events has occurred in recent months in S. Korea highlighting the potential dangers of chemicals detected in menstrual pads. Thousands of Korean women speaking out has led to:

  • A S. Korean women’s environmental organization (KWEN) commissioning testing of 10 brands of menstrual pads for toxic chemicals (based on protocols used by WVE here in the US).
  • A class action lawsuit filed representing tens of thousands of Korean women claiming harm to their health from using a specific brand of menstrual pads, Lillian. Symptoms reported include rashes, infections, shorter and less frequent menstrual periods, worse cramping and more.
  • The immediate and sudden removal of that Lillian menstrual pads from the market (and subsequent tanking of the stock price of the manufacturer, Kleannara).
  • The launch of a governmental investigation (by the equivalent of the FDA in S. Korea) that will test over 800 types of menstrual products for up to 76 toxic volatile organic chemicals (again largely following the protocols used by WVE in our 2014 testing).

Die In protest in South Korean for safe feminine careThe Korean Women’s Environmental Network (KWEN) is leading the campaign, and has been joined by thousands of Korean women demanding safer menstrual pads.  Their activities have included public protests, including a “die-in”, public forums with elected officials, online petitions and more, resulting in tremendous presence in the Korean news. Inspired by WVE’s work they have diligently translated several WVE publications into Korean including our report “Chem Fatale”, and even our Detox the Box video (now with Korean subtitles).

But that’s not all…

South Korean Film Crew Comes to Montana

Earlier this summer we got a call from a South Korean media company that is launching a new women’s TV channel. One of their first projects is a documentary program called “Body Actually” focused on women’s health. The chosen topic of their first episode? Healthy Vaginas!  … which brought them to us.

After some back and forth logistics, we set a date and their L.A. based film crew flew out to Montana to interview me about our feminine care products work. Their questions were excellent and focused on diving deeper into underlining issues of how and why toxic chemicals are ending up in products and what this means for women’s health. They were particularly interested in both what information we could share to help women better protect their health and what they could do to make change in the marketplace.

We look forward to finding more opportunities to work with our sisters around the world, on women’s health issues of interest to us all. And we greatly appreciate the work of KWEN and the many women in S. Korea speaking up for safer products! We believe this situation has the potential to have global ramifications for feminine care product manufacturing.

For more information, check out these media stories in The Korea Herald and The Korea Times.

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