Well + Good
By: Erin Bunch
Jamie McConnell, director of programs and policy [sic] at Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a nonprofit which works specifically on ingredient disclosure and contributed to both the New York and California bills, tells me her organization considers New York’s to be the industry standard. The California bill, by comparison, falls short of this standard despite its gains, she says.
For starters, she explains that the bill allows for added fragrance which falls under a certain threshold to be left off of ingredient lists, so California consumers will remain unaware of their inclusion in products. “This is concerning because these are products that are coming into contact with sensitive, absorptive tissue, and even fragrance ingredients below 100 parts per million could pose some health concerns,” she says. For example, scented menstrual products can irritate vulvar and vaginal skin, and can even disrupt the vagina’s natural pH levels—leading to an increased risk of infections.
The California bill also allows other ingredients to be kept under wraps as “confidential business information”, so long as they aren’t on the Chemical Candidates List of designated hazards. But this loophole troubles McConnell. “We are concerned that allergens in menstrual products that have been known to cause anogenital dermatitis [allergic contact dermatitis in the anal and genital regions], like MI and MCI, do not have to be disclosed under this bill,” McConnell says. (She’s referring to the ingredients methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, which are preservatives that can prevent bacteria and yeast growth, but have also been linked to allergic reactions and skin irritation.)