There Might Be Arsenic, Lead and Other Toxic Metals in Your Tampons, New Study Warns

There Might Be Arsenic, Lead and Other Toxic Metals in Your Tampons, New Study Warns featured image
Anthony Tran on Unsplash

As I’m writing this, that viral audio clip that says, “Oh, how I love being a woman,” is ringing in my head mockingly. A new study found 16 different toxic metals, including lead and arsenic, in tampons from a variety of popular brands. Scientists from U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University and Michigan State University evaluated 30 tampons from across 14 different brands and 18 product lines to measure the presence of metals. All 16 were found in measurable traces, with toxic metals detectable in all of the samples.

Unsurprisingly, this was the first study to measure metals in tampons. The study explains that the metals often come from “agricultural or manufacturing processes, which could be absorbed by the vagina’s highly absorptive tissue, resulting in systemic exposure.” While a few contaminated tampons may not seem like cause for concern, the study speculates that those who menstruate can use more than 7,400 tampons throughout their lifetime.

“Future research is necessary to replicate our findings and determine whether metals can leach out of tampons and cross the vaginal epithelium into systemic circulation,” says the study. “Our findings point towards the need for regulations requiring the testing of metals in tampons by manufacturers.”

While the study doesn’t pinpoint specific brands, they say they selected products listed as “top sellers” on a major online retailer, as well as “store-brand” products. If you think you’re safe because you’ve switched to organic tampons, that’s not necessarily true.

“Metals were detected in both organic and non-organic tampons, with lead concentrations being higher in non-organic products and arsenic higher in organic ones, which researchers said could be attributable to natural fertilizers used to grow cotton for organic products.”

If all of this freaks you out, which is totally fair, there are other options. Talk to your doctor about trying menstrual cups, period underwear, pads or menstrual discs.

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