Women today are conscious of the need to restrict their contact with synthetic materials, skin irritants and unnecessary chemicals but perhaps because of the more personal nature of the topic, many women use dyed and bleached cotton tampons and pads without being fully aware of the risk they are exposing themselves too. At the same time, many of us are making very positive changes to combat the negative impact our buying decisions have on the environment, but how educated are the majority of us really on the impact of using non-organic sanitary wear?
THE PROBLEM WITH RAYON & DIOXIN
The two biggest culprits proven to cause health problems in non-organic tampons are rayon and dioxin.
Rayon is commonly chlorine-bleached, and is a highly absorbent fibre and did you know that common brands of tampons are made from mostly rayon with a small percentage of cotton or made from 100% rayon? Furthermore, dioxin, a toxic carcinogen, is a by-product of all chlorine bleaching methods and is also found throughout the environment in varying levels as a by-product of pesticide spraying and pollution from incinerators that has been on the rise since the 1940s. But it’s not just from farming methods that dioxin finds its way into your sanitary wear – it is also a by-product from chlorine bleaching. Dioxin will leave detectable residuals in any product that has been bleached with any type of chlorine bleach.
Dioxin has been found to collect in the fatty tissues of animals, including humans and should, therefore, be a real concern for women. Published scientific reports have shown that evidence is growing that even low levels of dioxins may be linked to cancer, endometriosis, low sperm counts and immune system suppression. Considering a woman may use as many as 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, she may be subjecting herself to additional dioxin exposure.
TAMPON FIBRE LOSS
It’s not just the ingredients used in the tampons that are of concern, but also fibre loss from the use of synthetic tampons is a real cause for concern.
Natracare (the organic sanitary brand we support) championed the issue of fibre loss back in the 1990s as a result of concerns raised by both users of tampons and nurses. Common brands of tampons made from mostly rayon with a small percentage of cotton or made from 100% rayon were the worst offenders for fibre loss. Nurses conducting smear tests advised that they first needed to remove shed tampon fibres from around the cervix before being able to obtain a clear smear sample and were, as a result, able to determine which women were tampon users.
Manufacturers who at first denied the fibre loss issue, quickly moved to place a synthetic overwrap material around their tampons to prevent the inner absorbent core of fibres falling away during use and withdrawal. The choice of material, a plastic called polypropylene, is heated to slightly melt the overwrap in order to form a seal over the inner core of rayon fibres. This did reduce some of the fibre loss, but did not eradicate it.
Natracare does not have an issue with fibre loss as their tampons are made from 100% organic cotton, a wavy-construction fibre that easily interlocks itself, unlike rayon which, like straight hair, does not entangle itself together. Because of this, rayon fibres easily slide apart from each other, shedding into the vagina during use and when the tampon is withdrawn. Apart from the hygiene issues, of fibres remaining in the vagina, there are also implications for bacterial colonisation which can contribute to vaginal infections.
Also, 75% of UK gynaecologists believe that conventional sanitary protection could be the cause of symptoms of vaginal itching, soreness and/or discharge.
Furthermore, independent research, conducted at New York University Medical School, suggests that the use of 100% cotton tampons may reduce the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome compared with tampons that contain rayon.
In terms of our precious Earth, every year, billions of plastic-laden pads and liners are disposed of by women. Most of these pads are made from over 90% crude oil plastic which goes on to pollute global environments forever. Generally the plastic waste ends up in landfill sites and the oceans of the world forever causing visual pollution and damaging marine life and ultimately the food chain. Products which rely on the production and use of pesticides, fertilisers, plastics from crude oil and chlorine, burden the environment with their carbon footprint. The toxic effects of their production and release into the environment include pesticide poisoning, acidification of trees, loss of wildlife and diversification of species as well as a negative impact on the climate. Did you know that conventional cotton (non-organic) is the most extensively sprayed crop in the world? Furthermore, pesticides and insecticides are used that not only affect the ecosystems of the countries where they are sprayed and the water supplies, but also the health of the farmers working the land. By choosing certified organic tampons, you are saying no to crude oil plastics.
If you would like to continue using tampons and pads, choose Natracare which are made from only certified organic 100% cotton and are the only fully certified organic cotton tampons available in the world today. The cotton is fully certified organic to the Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) at the farm, where the cotton is grown, at the processor where the cotton is cleaned through to manufacture. In this way, there is a complete trail of custody for the organic process to guarantee that the Natracare tampons you buy are truly certified organic.
They are also non-chlorine bleached and women can be reassured that they do not contain synthetic materials, such as rayon, or chemical additives such as binders or surfactants.
The products are fully biodegradable, containing only organic and natural ingredients sourced from sound ecologically managed producers and certified free from animal testing.
To view our full Natracare product range, click here.
Alternatively, if you’d like to minimise your waste contribution towards landfill as much as possible, opt for sanitary wear in the form of reusable menstrual cups or organic cotton cloth pads to support your feminine cycle in the greenest way possible.
Read a first-hand experience of using menstrual cups here: