Study Warns of Potentially Carcinogenic PFAS Chemicals in Tampon Brands Commonly Used by Women in the US

Against a backdrop of growing health concerns long-term side effects of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, infertility, hormonal disruptions and other injuries, new research indicates that high levels of toxic “eternal chemicals” are commonly found in many popular brands of tampons.

Consumer advocacy group Mamavation has released a new report on October 26, in which 23 popular and widely available brands of tampons were tested for PFAS levels in a laboratory certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The results revealed that 22% of the tampons tested had elevated levels of fluoride, which is a strong indicator of the presence of PFAS.

Researchers tested flour levels in a total of 23 tampon products made from synthetic materials, different types of packaging, and even those advertised as “organic.”

Testing was conducted by an EPA-certified lab, where researchers determined that five (22%) of the tampons tested had elevated levels of PFAS markers, ranging from 19 parts per million (ppm) to 28 parts per million (ppm). Current drinking water standards set by the FDA for maximum contaminant levels of the two most common PFAS chemicals are 0.004 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 0.02 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), both of which have been linked to increased cancer risks.

Two of the tampon products that tested positive for high levels of PFAS markers were advertised as “organic” tampons, but contained man-made synthetic PFAS chemicals.

Some of the brands that tested positive for PFAS in tampon products included:

  • Maxim Hygiene Organic Cotton Cardboard Applicator Tampons
  • OrganYc Complete Protection Tampons (organic cotton)
  • Playtex SPORT regular and super tampons
  • Tampax Cardboard Applicator Unscented Tampons
  • Up & Up Regular Tampons (Target Brand)

PFAS Health Concerns and Lawsuits

PFAS were first introduced to the manufacturing industry in the 1940s, due to their ability to resist heat, grease, stains and water. The products have been used for decades in a number of products including cosmetics, cooking, waterproof clothing and various other stain and non-stick products.

In recent years, a growing body of medical research has revealed that exposure to PFAS chemicals through ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption increases the risk of a myriad of adverse health effects. The chemicals have caused widespread water contamination nationwide and are commonly found in the urine of most Americans.

Chemical manufacturers now face hundreds of fire fighting foam trial brought by people with cancer after direct contact with chemicals during their career as firefighters. Additionally, an increasing number of Lawsuits for water contamination by PFAS are sued by people with ulcerative colitis or cancer, after regularly drinking water known to contain the chemicals.

Denise W. Whigham