Personal Care
Toxic Tampons: Is Your Pad or Tampon Safe?

Toxic Tampons: Is Your Pad or Tampon Safe?

January 15, 2023

By Alexandra Zissu, Editorial Director

Is your tampon or pad safe? Do you know what your panty liner is made of? Probably not. There are lots of reasons to talk about tampons, pads, and other feminine care products, but most of us don’t bother. It’s time to start. If you have a daughter, you’ll need to know about safer options sooner than you think. And if you’re a mom, you want to do everything possible to stay healthy for your family.

Choosing safe feminine care is more important than most people realize. Why? All too often these products are made from questionable materials with the potential to produce some surprisingly unhealthy consequences. And the average woman uses about 11,000 tampons during her lifetime and countless pads and panty liners, all of which come into direct contact with sensitive, highly permeable skin. Tampons, for example, are typically made from conventional cotton or a cotton/rayon blend. Cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world, with five of the top nine chemicals typically used classified as possible carcinogens. For it’s part, rayon is made from wood pulp bleached with toxic chlorine, a process that creates dangerous cancer-causing dioxins, which can contaminate the final product. The use of rayon in tampons has been linked to toxic shock syndrome, as well.

The cotton and other materials used in pads, liners, and tampons are also typically bleached with chlorine. As with rayon, this process creates toxic pollutants like dioxins and trihalomethanes that can remain behind in the finished product—that tampon you’re wearing pressed up against your skin for many hours daily, about one week a month.

To add insult to injury tampons and pads are frequently scented with artificial fragrances. Not only can fragrance seriously irritate delicate skin, but also it typically contains phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals. Phthalates can also be used to create the smooth finish on paper applicators. And did you know pads can contain the same amount of plastic found in four plastic bags? Depending on what type of plastic being used, this could mean your pad might contain more phthalates or even chemicals like BPA and BPS, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.

Whether it’s dioxins, phthalates, or something else, whatever is in or on our tampons and other feminine care items can and do get inside of us when we use them. And their manufacture pollutes our mother earth.

Fortunately, there are simple solutions here—reusable as well as disposable. Safer reusable options include silicone cups and washable pads. Safer disposables are made from pure organic cotton and other unbleached or non-chlorine-bleached natural materials. They’re the safest and healthiest we can use. Period.