Arsenic, lead and other toxic metals found in tampons, study finds

What can women do to stay healthy in the long run?

A recent study has found more than a dozen metals, including lead and arsenic, in a wide range of tampons sold in the US and Europe, raising concerns about the menstrual products used by millions of people.

Tests have found lead in all 30 tampons from 14 brands purchased from major online retailers and in-store stores in the US, UK and Greece, according to findings published this week in the journal Environmental International.

“Our findings indicate a need for regulations requiring manufacturers to test for metals in tampons,” the researchers wrote.

The analysis looked for concentrations of arsenic, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium, strontium, vanadium and zinc. All 16 metals were detected in one product.

Further studies are needed to determine whether the metals leak out of tampons, which would be particularly concerning because the skin of the vagina is more permeable than other parts of the body, noted the researchers, led by Jenni Shearston, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. Any substance entering the bloodstream from the vagina also wouldn’t be filtered by the liver, the researchers said.

The findings did not name the brands tested. Shearston did not immediately respond to a request to identify them or explain the findings. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tampons in the U.S., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The study found that organic tampons contained less lead and more arsenic than non-organic tampons. In addition, tampons sold in the US contained higher concentrations of lead than tampons sold in Europe.

Well-known tampon brands include Procter & Gamble’s Tampax, Kimberly-Clark’s Kotex and Edgewell Personal Care’s Playtex. The three companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tampons are made of cotton, rayon or both, and the study noted that the metals could come from the soil through the plants used to make the materials. The presence of metals could also be the result of chemicals used as antimicrobials or to control odor.

Leave a Comment