Although it is about a feminine product, guys, I urge you to read on, as you can pass this information along to your female companions, wives, mothers, sisters, friends, etc. This is serious business. This was forwarded to me by my sister-in-law.
Offered by Alanna.
Many tampon makers would include asbestos in the tampon. Why? Because asbestos makes you bleed more. If you bleed more, you're going to need to use more. Why wasn't this against the law since asbestos is so dangerous? Because the powers that be, in all their wisdom (not), did not consider tampons as being ingested, and therefore this practice wasn't illegal or considered dangerous.
This month's [October, 1998] Essence magazine has a small article about this and they mention two manufacturers of a cotton tampon alternative. The companies are Organic Essentials (800) 765-6491 and the Black-owned Terra Femme (800) 755-0212. 7th Generation brand tampons and pads are also available through Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, or through the Harmony catalog (800) 869-3446.
A woman getting her Ph.D. at University of Colorado at Boulder sent this: (here's the scoop) tampons contain two things that are potentially harmful: rayon (for absorbency) and dioxin (a chemical used in bleaching the products). The tampon industry is convinced that we, as women, need bleached white products - they seem to think that we view the product as pure and clean. The problem here is that the dioxin produced in this bleaching process can lead to very harmful problems for a woman.
- Dioxin is potentially carcinogenic (cancer-associated) and is toxic to the immune and reproductive systems. It has been linked to endometriosis as well as lower sperm counts for men - for both, it breaks down the immune system. Last September the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that there really is no set "acceptable" level of exposure to dioxin - given that it is cumulative and slow to disintegrate, the real danger comes from repeated contact (Karen Houppert Pulling the Plug on the Tampon Industry). I'd say using about 5 tampons a day, five days a month, for 38 menstruating years is "repeated contact", wouldn't you?
- Rayon contributes to the danger of tampons and dioxin because it is a highly absorbent substance and therefore when fibers from the tampons are left behind in the vagina (as usually occurs), it creates a breeding ground for the dioxin, and stays in a lot longer than it would with just cotton tampons. This is also the reason why TSS (toxic shock syndrome) occurs.
What are the alternatives? Using feminine hygiene products that aren't bleached (which causes the dioxin) and that are all cotton (the rayon will leave fibers and "breeding grounds" in the vagina). Other feminine hygiene products (pads/napkins) contain dioxin as well, but they are not nearly as dangerous since they are not in direct contact with the vagina. The pads/napkins need to stop being bleached, but obviously tampons are the most dangerous.
So, what can you do if you can't give up using tampons? Use tampons that are made from 100% cotton, and that are unbleached. Unfortunately, there are very, very few companies that make these safe tampons. They are usually only found in health food stores. Countries all over the world (Sweden, Germany, British Columbia, etc.) have demanded a switch to this safer tampon, while the US has decided to keep us in the dark about it. In 1989, activists in England mounted a campaign against chlorine bleaching. Six weeks and 50,000 letters later, the makers of sanitary products switched to oxygen bleaching (one of the green methods available) (Ms. magazine, May/June 1995).