Sanitary Napkin Health Concern

Did you know that most sanitary napkins (and tampons) are bleached with chlorine compounds that contain traces of the organochlorine – dioxin.

The US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has named dioxin to be the most potent carcinogen known to science.

A 1996 EPA study linked dioxin exposure with increased risks for endometriosis (an infection of the uterine lining).

The EPA has also concluded that people with high exposure to dioxins may be at risk for other factors that could suppress the immune system, increase the risk of PID [pelvic inflammatory disease], reduce fertility, and possibly interfere with normal fetal and childhood development.

In overseas test, sanitary napkins have been found to contain 400 parts per trillion (ppt) dioxin.

Although the paper industry has maintained that such levels are too low to cause any health problems in women, studies have shown that dioxin appear to leech out of paper products quite easily.

[Fish and other wildlife have died after exposure to incredibly small doses of 38 parts per quadrillion dioxin.]

The average women uses approximately 15,000 pads over the course of her lifetime. The effect of continual exposure to dioxin, which stores in fat cells forever, may become cumulative and deadly.

Manufactured with Lots of Chemicals

To make a sanitary napkin, wood pulp fibers are first emerged in water in a large tub. Most of the chemicals and dyes required for the process are added at this stage. (The pulp is then scraped and brushed and inserted with air to make it fleecy.

For extra absorbency, some pads contain added rayon, which also originates from wood. The cellulose in the wood is dissolved in a caustic solution, and squirted into fine jets in an acid bath (The mixture then hardens and dries forming longer fibers).

Chemical processes include de-linking recycled material, washing the material with detergents and also bleaching the material. (As a result, traces of the chemicals used in the processing of the materials remains in the pad).

Additives are also used to enhance the properties of the pad. These include absorbency agents and wet-strength agents – often, polysorbate and urea formaldehyde are also added.

Further bleaching, involving chlorine, may take place to achieve that glowing white appearance that we are so accustomed to seeing.

What You CAN See

That’s the part you can’t see. But even the external parts on a sanitary Anapkin that you can see is not all natural.

The plastic on the bottom of the sanitary napkin – which is used to prevent leakage – is  usually made from polypropylene or rayon.

The non-woven fabric covering on the surface of the pad is a lightweight material which is often made from polypropylene or rayon.

The back has 1 or 2 strips of pressure-sensitive chemical-based adhesive, covered with a strip of siliconised compound paper.

The pads are then packaged in plastic bags or shrink wrapped. And the packet itself may be printed with patterns – again, a chemical process.

Full of Bacteria

Sanitary pads, even before you open the package, or place them in your purse, can harbor bacteria as they are not sterilized products. In 1987, CAP’s test of some popular brands sold in Penang, Malaysia, were found to contain unacceptably high bacterial counts of up to 11,000 (over 10 times the international safety standard). This alone could lead to vaginal infection in women using sanitary pads.

Sanitary products, like pads, can also be placed on the market without prior evidence of safety or efficacy, even in developed countries.

In Canada, for example, tongue depressors, bandages and dental floss are all considered medical devices, but not women's menstrual pads.

As women, we are an easy target to market to because we are bound by biology to menstruate for at least 35 years.

As women we are a captive market. We are potentially easy victims because we're not educated on what health issues can arise when we use less than superior products. W
e're not shown that there are healthier, superior product alternatives available. .

It is thus important that women know the facts so that they can seek out safer alternatives.