Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces Passage of First-in-the-Nation Menstrual Product Ingredient Labeling Bill in both Assembly and Senate

June 21, 2019

Albany, NY Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced passage of her first-in-the-nation legislation to require ingredient labeling on the packaging of all menstrual products, including tampons, pads and sanitary napkins, in both the New York State Assembly and State Senate. If signed by the Governor, New York will become the first state in the nation to require menstrual product ingredient labeling to empower millions of menstruators to make informed decisions about which products they choose to leave inside or on their bodies.

“I know what’s in my toothpaste and my shampoo, I should know what’s in my tampons,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Menstruators have a right to know the ingredients in products that they put in and on some of the most sensitive parts of their bodies 24 hours a day, for seven to 10 days a month every month for as many as 40 years. For years, menstruators have been stigmatized, their periods shrouded by shame. This legislation helps to smash the stigma surrounding menstruation and helps empower menstruators to make educated decisions about the products they use on their most sensitive body parts.”

Menstruators use tampons and related products for up to a week each month for 40 years or more during the span of a lifetime. This prolonged exposure creates unique and not well understood or studied opportunities for absorption of chemicals and toxins into the individual’s body. Reports on the ingredients found in many different brands have shown the presence of several undisclosed volatile compounds, including known reproductive toxins, like carbon disulfide and methylene chloride. Further, the percentage of organic to synthetic materials in menstrual hygiene products often fluctuates with changes in the price of cotton, and yet consumers are not informed of these changes in product composition.

“Make no mistake about it, product labeling is a vital consumer protection, but a package with ingredients clearly labeled is also a signal to menstruators that their bodies and their experience matters,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

“We deserve the right to know what’s in our menstrual products,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership. “Thanks to this first-ever menstrual product labeling requirement, New Yorkers will no longer have to guess what ingredients are in products they use in and on the most intimate parts of their bodies.”

“This bill makes sure that people are informed about the ingredients in the products that they need to manage their period,” said Amber Garcia, Executive Director, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). “It builds on WVE’s work to ensure that people are able to see what is in their products, and that toxic chemicals are not present in the products that we all use in our everyday lives. No one should have to worry that their period products will cause harm to their health or future fertility. This legislation is an important first step,” Garcia added.

“For years women's health has been at the mercy of the companies making period products because they've not been required to disclose any of the toxic chemicals they intentionally add like nanosilver,” said Cecil Corbin- Mark, Director of Programs at WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Co-Leader of the Just Green Partnership. “People who menstruate, especially those who live in communities of color where there are disproportionate levels of toxic exposure, have a fundamental right to this information – especially considering the health risks some ingredients like nanosilver pose.”

“Finally, through new disclosure requirements, we will be better informed about ingredients in period products that may be linked to breast cancer and other chronic diseases," said Laura Weinberg, President of The Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. "The Legislature has taken an important step to arm people with the information they need to make safe purchasing decisions, making this a major win for all New Yorkers.”

“New York State is addressing the issue of menstrual health, head on,” said Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. “The passage of this legislation is an important step to protect New Yorkers from unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals in period products, many of which have been linked to serious health problems. We have a right to know what’s in the things we buy, and this legislation will give consumers the power to make better, safer choices."

“Until now, companies did not have to disclose whether they were using nanosilver or other intentionally added ingredients. People who menstruate have a fundamental right to this information – especially considering the health risks some ingredients like nanosilver pose” said Lubna Ahmed, Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Co-Leader of the Just Green Partnership.

"Phasing out harmful and unnecessary toxic chemicals in menstrual products will have a lasting effect on both the health of the New Yorkers who use them and the environment," said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation & Development Program Manager for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "Ultimately, these chemicals find their way into the environment, be it through the air, water, or when these products eventually end up in the landfill. The Sierra Club applauds the Legislature for taking this much needed action to ensure New Yorkers are one step closer to a toxic-free future."

The bill, which passed the State Senate earlier this session, was sponsored by Roxanne Persaud.