"I have a Diva Cup and I’m a huge advocate for them. There have been concerns about tampons and dioxins which are toxic by-products of the chlorine bleaching used to make tampons, pads, and diapers unnecessarily white. According to the World Health Organization, “Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions.” The dioxin debate continues, but unfortunately, there is little research being done on the long-term effects of tampon use. Check out Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s effort to pass several tampon safety and research acts which have not been passed.
Another issue is pesticide use. Cotton is considered one of the dirtiest crops and if the cotton isn’t being grown in the US, there may be illegal and extremely toxic chemicals being used on this crop. There are huge social justice concerns with cotton farming, especially outside the US.
I recently did a project on tampons’ health and environmental concerns and I attempted to get information on where the cotton is grown, which is considered confidential information. Though tampons are considered grade 2 medical devices, the FDA does not require manufacturers to label the ingredients used to make these products. So, we don’t really know what exactly we’re sticking in some of the most absorbent tissues in our bodies.
One of the biggest concerns is the environmental impact of non-biodegradable plastic applicators. These are greatly contributing to pollution, including with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Birds are eating these plastics and dying due to malnutrition.
It is estimated that the average menstruator and tampon user will use about 11,400 tampons in their lifetime. That’s a ton of waste.
We’ve become increasingly aware of the often unnoticed impacts of plastic bags and production of coffee which is awesome and incredibly necessary. Now it’s time to do the same with tampons. I would say that we should demand transparency and research regarding tampons, we should, but honestly, it’s time to progress from tampons to more sustainable alternatives, like the menstrual cup.”