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EnvInt: arsenic, lead and cadmium found in feminine hygiene products

July 4, 2024  14:13

American scientists from the University of California at Berkeley have found that sanitary tampons for women of several popular brands contain such heavy toxic metals as cadmium, lead and arsenic. The study is published in the scientific journal Environment International (EnvInt).

Tampons are of particular concern because the vaginal mucosa has a higher potential for chemical absorption than other areas of the body. In addition, between 50 and 80% of women use these products during their periods.

Toxic metals are known to increase the risk of dementia, infertility, diabetes, cancer and various pregnancy complications. They can damage the liver, kidneys and brain, as well as the cardiovascular, nervous and endocrine systems.

The researchers assessed the levels of 16 metals (arsenic, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium, strontium, vanadium and zinc) in 30 tampons of 14 different brands.

It appeared that metals were present in all types of swabs. No product category had consistently lower concentrations of all or most metals. Levels of lead were higher in the inorganic tampons, but arsenic appeared to be higher in the organic versions.

According to the scientists, the harmful metals could have gotten into the swabs in several ways: the cotton material could have absorbed the substances from water, air or soil through a nearby pollutant (for example, if the cotton grew near a lead smelter). Or the toxins were intentionally added during production as a pigment, bleach, antibacterial agent, or other component.

It is not yet clear whether the metals found in this study contribute to any adverse health effects.

The team intends to test how much toxins can be leached from the tampons and absorbed by the body.

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