How diapers and menstrual pads are exposing babies and women to hormone-disrupting, toxic chemicals
Health advocates say the report is the latest example of products falling through regulatory cracks and an inadequate societal focus on women’s reproductive health.
Most diapers and sanitary pads contain volatile organic compounds and phthalates and with this continued, long-term exposure a significant amount of these harmful chemicals could be absorbed via the genitals, according to a new study.
The study was spurred by an investigation from South Korean media outlets in 2017 that found new sanitary pads might be causing menstrual problems and irregularities and was broadened to the U.S. and other countries. More than 15,000 women complained and signed onto a class action lawsuit claiming harm from menstrual pads by the company Lillian. The pads were removed from the market. Women alleged rashes, infections, irregular periods and bad cramping.
Scientists and advocates say the exposure uncovers a gap in our regulation of baby’s diapers and is emblematic of our society’s historical unease with having productive conversations about women’s reproductive health.
“The physical location of the exposure site, the high absorption rate of the genitalia for chemicals, and the long-term exposure period demand a thorough investigation on the potential impact of the exposure to VOCs and phthalates,” the authors wrote in the study, which will be published in Reproductive Toxicology.
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