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Chem Fatale Report

Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products

Statement: WVE Opposes California Assembly Bill 1989

Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) opposes California Assembly Bill 1989. AB 1989 was introduced by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia and requires some ingredients to be listed on the packaging of tampons, pads, menstrual cup and underwear, but also allows manufacturers to hide certain ingredients as confidential business information. Recently, A.164B (authored by Linda B. Rosenthal) was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, requiring disclosure of intentionally added ingredients. Notably, A.164B bill does not allow manufacturers to hide ingredients from their customers by deeming them to be confidential business information. The New York law passed, setting a precedent that the public has the right to know every ingredient added to menstrual products. WVE cannot support legislation like AB 1989 that weakens this right.

AB 1989 represents a step backward for ingredient disclosure of menstrual products. Californians deserve to have the same access to information as the public has in New York. If manufacturers are already required to provide this information in New York, they should also be required to provide the same information in California. See press statement.

Chem Fatale Report:
Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products

Annual Report 2Feminine care. Feminine hygiene. Personal cleansing products. Intimate care. No matter what you call them, these consumer products are manufactured for and marketed exclusively to women. The purpose of feminine care products is to clean, moisturize, absorb discharge or otherwise treat the sensitive skin and tissues of the vaginal area. Women are told they are necessary for personal hygiene, a “fresher feeling,” or “greater confidence,” and the companies marketing these products imply that this improved cleanliness will promote good health and increase sex appeal.

A closer look at the impacts of these products, and the chemicals they contain, tell a much different story. Products intended for use on or in an incredibly absorbent part of a woman’s body are marketed and sold with little to no data assuring the ingredients they contain are safe. Ingredients are determined “safe,” operating under the premise that they are used on ordinary skin just like other cosmetic products. That means chemicals of concern such as carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, and allergens are being used on, or even in, the extremely permeable mucus membranes of the vaginal area.

Feminine care products are widely used by women in the United States and constitute a $3 billion dollar industry. The most popular feminine care products are tampons and menstrual pads, used by 70-85 percent of women. Douches, sprays, washes, and wipes are used by a smaller percentage of women (approximately 10-40 percent), with rates considerably higher among African-American, Latina and low-income women. This report highlights the potential health concerns related to toxic and allergenic chemicals found in feminine care products and outlines the considerable data gaps in our knowledge about them. These products, and their ingredients, require both more research, and greater scrutiny to ensure the safety of their use.

Tampons

Tampons Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash.

Pads tampons

Pads Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Studies link pad use to allergic rash.

Wipes generic

Feminine WipesHazardous ingredients may include methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, parabens, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, Triclosan and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer and endocrine disruption. Studies link wipe use to allergic rash

Feminine Washes

Feminine WashHazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, DMDM hydantoin, D&C Red No.33, Ext D&C Violet #2, and FD&C Yellow #5. Exposure concerns include endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and asthma.

Douche-WVE-1

DoucheHazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals and the spermicide octoxynol-9. Studies link douche use to bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, low-birth weight, preterm birth, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, chronic yeast infections, and infertility.

Spray-WVE-1

Feminine Deodorant (sprays , powders and suppositories)Hazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, and benzethonium chloride. Exposure concerns include reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rash.

Anti-Itch Cream

Feminine Anti-Itch CreamsHazardous ingredients may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylisothiazolinone and an active ingredient, benzocaine, a mild anesthetic. Exposure concerns include endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and unresolved itch.
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