PFAS

Some tampons contain toxic metals like LEAD that can be absorbed by the body.

10:10 EDT, July 4, 2024


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10:51 EDT on 4 July 2024

A shocking investigation has revealed that toxic metals may be present in tampons purchased in the UK.

The tests on 30 products bought in New York City, Athens, and London revealed that some of them contained arsenic and chromium at dangerous levels.

All 16 metals were found in at least 1 tampon.

Lead exposure can affect brain development. Other metals, however, can cause life-threatening blood bleeding and increase the risk of certain cancers.

Researchers in the US claimed that the study showed tampons to be a ‘potential source of metal exposure for women’.

Experts cautioned women to not panic, and warned that more research is needed to determine if there are any risks to users.

Researchers chose not to identify the 14 brands or products involved, even though some are available in US and others in UK and EU.

Dr Jenni S. Shearston is an expert on the epidemiology of air pollutants at the University of California in Berkeley. She said that despite the potential public health concerns, there has been very little research done to measure the chemicals in tampons.

This is the first time we have ever seen a paper that measures metals in tampons.

“Concerningly we found concentrations for all metals that we tested, including toxic metals such as arsenic or lead.”

Professor Kathrin Schilling is an assistant professor at Columbia University and a geochemist. She said: “Although we are constantly exposed to toxic metals, our study shows that they are also found in menstrual products and that women may be at greater risk of exposure when using these products.”

The thin internal tissue of vaginal tissues could make it easy for heavy metals to enter the body.

These findings could have a wide-ranging impact. About 50% to 80% of women menstruate monthly and use tampons for several hours.

The 16 metals that were tested in the study included arsenic (barium), calcium, cadmium (cobalt), chromium (copper), iron, and chromium.

Manganese and nickel were also present, as well as lead, vanadium strontium, zinc, and selenium.

Researchers found examples of each 16 in the tampons that were tested.

All samples were found to contain arsenic as well as cadmium and chromium. Lead, vanadium, and chromium.

Lead was the most concentrated with a total mean of 120 nanograms (ng/g).

Cadmium was next at 6.74ng/g. Arsenic came in second with 2.56ng/g.

Researchers wrote in the journal Environment International that there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

Any lead in a tampon that reaches the systemic circulation could have negative effects on health.

They added that no brand or type tampons had significantly lower metal levels overall.

Non-organic tampons contained higher levels than organic tampons of arsenic.

The authors stated that there were multiple ways in which the metals may have been embedded into the tampons.

The cotton plants that are used to make tampons may have absorbed metals in soil and water. This is especially true when contaminants are present nearby, such as a cotton farm near a lead-smelter.

These substances can be added to the manufacturing process as antibacterial agents or whiteners.

Dr Shearston stated: “I hope that manufacturers will be required to test for metals in their products, particularly toxic metals.

It would be great to see people demand this or ask for a better label on tampons, pads and other menstrual items.

What are ‘forever Chemicals’?

“Forever chemicals” are industrial compounds which do not degrade when released into the atmosphere.

These chemicals are released into the environment when they come into contact with soil, food or water.

These chemicals, also known as polyfluoroalkyls substances (PFAS), are added to carpets, textiles, and other products to make them water-resistant and stain resistant.

Water near manufacturing plants, military bases, and firefighting facilities that use flame-retardant sprays have been found to be contaminated with PFAS.

Chemicals have been linked with an increased risk of kidney, testicular, and immune system cancers. They also cause birth defects, lower birth weights, decreased vaccination response, and birth defects.



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Experts warned women to not panic, saying that there is ‘no proof’ the metals will leech into their menstrual blood.

Professor Atholl Johnson, professor emeritus of Clinical Pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London told MailOnline that he did not doubt the findings of the research, but he did doubt the bioavailability of metals in the tampons.

The tampons are cut into pieces and the researchers add 2 mL of HNO3 (67-70%) to each sample. They then pre-digest the tampons overnight at room temperature before using microwaves to assist acid digestion.

“Hardly similar to the average vagina”

He said: “If I were a woman who used tampons, I would not panic at this point.”

There is no evidence to suggest that metals could leech into blood during menstruation and be absorbed by the body.

The Environmental Working Group and US consumer watchdog Mamavation both claimed that tampons may contain harmful Perfluoroalkyl Substances or PFAS.

They have been linked with everything from high cholesterol and cancer to infertility.

Mamavation discovered popular Playtex tampons and Always liners as well as Carefree liners sold in the US tested positive for organic Fluorine. This chemical contains PFAS.

The Playtex Sport contained 19ppm while the Always Liners had 21ppm and the Carefree product 17ppm.

In the UK, it was also discovered that some of the period pants sold in high-street retailers contained high levels silver.

Silver is added as an antimicrobial to period pants in order to reduce the user’s concern about hygiene and odor.

Scientists have found that nanosilver is capable of killing lactobacillus bacteria, which are healthy bacteria in vagina and help to fight infection.

It can increase the risk of infection and complications during pregnancy.