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Campaign for Safe Cosmetics warns of toxins in tampons and pads

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Consumer advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has joined with Women's Voices for the Earth in promoting the findings of a report about feminine hygiene products and toxins. Called "Chem Fatale," the report warns women that ingredients for feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads are typically not disclosed, that many of these ingredients have been approved for use based on false assumptions, and that many of these ingredients are chemicals that can enter the body rapidly through the vaginal area, with the potential to cause harm.

Calling on women to ask leading personal care product manufacturer Procter & Gamble to "detox the box," Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE) observes that tampons and pads are regulated by the FDA as "medical devices" rather than "personal care products" (the category that includes shampoo and deodorant), and so are not required to include ingredient lists on their packaging. WVE notes that tests have found chemicals such as dioxins and furans in feminine hygiene products, an assertion that is borne out by published research. Although the EPA asserts that levels of dioxins absorbed through tampons are lower than those ingested in food and drink, WVE does not view the pollution of food and drink as a good excuse for selling toxin-containing hygiene products.

WVE states several concerns about the undisclosed ingredients in feminine hygiene products, including the possibility of developing cancer from endocrine disruptors and the likelihood of an allergic rash in some individuals who react to the chemicals. Indeed, vaginal tissue has been of particular interest to pharmaceutical developers because it facilitates the intake of drugs into the bloodstream without metabolizing them -- making the EPA's dismissal of vaginal absorption of dioxins callous and ill-informed.

It is unclear whether the campaign to label feminine hygiene products will have any sway at Procter & Gamble, but it may raise awareness among women currently using P&G products. More natural alternatives exist, including fragrance-free, chlorine-free products from Seventh Generation and from Naty Nature Womencare.