Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Advocates Want Consumers to Know what’s in Tampons and Pads

New tampon testing reveals reproductive toxins, probable carcinogens in well-known tampon brands; Bill to require ingredient disclosure in NYS passes key committee

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, announced today that her bill (A.521-A) to require menstrual hygiene product packing to bear ingredient labeling passed the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection and now heads to the Codes Committee for a vote. The bill requires disclosure of the percentage of ingredients, in addition to any chemicals or byproducts of chemicals produced as a result of the manufacturing process or the interaction of chemicals, in commonly used products such as tampons, sanitary napkins, the menstrual cup and period underwear.

“Young girls will go on to use tampons and menstrual hygiene products for 24 hours each day, five days a week, one week a month, every month for as many as 40 years. Women and young girls have an indisputable and absolute right to know what we are putting in and on our bodies,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “There is a growing global movement led by consumers around the world demanding to know more about the products they feed to their families and use for themselves, and this is part of that movement.”

Recent testing results of several widely used tampon brands conducted by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national women’s health non-profit organization partnering with Assemblymember Rosenthal to pass her legislation, revealed the presence of several undisclosed volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, including known reproductive toxins like carbon disulfide. In addition to reproductive toxins, all four brands of rayon-containing tampons tested contained methylene chloride, classified as a probable human carcinogen by the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because of its dangerousness, the EPA proposed a rule to prohibit methylene chloride in paint strippers, and major retailers have agreed to stop selling products containing methylene chloride.

Comprehensive results of the testing can be found here.

“There is something wrong when chemicals are deemed too dangerous for paint stripper, but are considered just fine in tampons,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “The fact that we women have been denied for so long basic information about products that we use on and in some of the most sensitive parts of our bodies reflects antipathy at best, and potential outright hostility toward women’s health. We deserve to be provided more and not less information about tampons and related menstrual hygiene products. The fact that we are even having this conversation in 2018 is absolutely astounding.”

Tampons are classified by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a Class II Medical Device under The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Medical Device Amendments. The federal law requires tampon manufacturers to disclose information about product absorbency because of concerns about the potential for Toxic Shock Syndrome, but does not require specific ingredient labeling, leaving that aspect of regulation to the states.