I know what you’re thinking: There are simply not enough things for women to be stressed about these days, so here’s one more. A recent study out of Graham Peaslee Labs at the University of Notre Dame, as reported by The New York Times, tested 44 period and incontinence products for PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, and a startling amount were contaminated. PFAS are unavoidable to a point as they’re in so many of the products we use daily. However, women’s personal care products is a good place to try to limit PFAS exposure.
Perhaps the most upsetting finding was that many of these brands market their products as PFAS-free. While this may seem intentional, and for some it might be, attorney Thomas Sokolowski of Taft Law tells The New York Times that even if a brand tries to intentionally keep PFAS out of their products, they “are so pervasive now in the world, they can unintentionally contaminate a product.” Forever chemicals can be picked up during manufacturing, shipping, handling and anything in between.
Every single product tested indicated at least a trace amount of known PFAS. Nearly half of the products suggest unintentional PFAS contamination. The study found that at least eight of the products suggest PFAS-treated material was added to them. This includes two pairs of period underwear and six reusable and disposable menstrual and incontinence pads.
The five tampons and four medical-grade silicone menstrual cups showed low levels of PFAS. If you’re looking to steer away from PFAS, try a medical-grade cup and wash any underwear before putting it on. More studies need to be done to truly determine product’s potential toxicity, individual lab results are not enough to confirm.