Popular tampon brands have been detected to have evidence of PFAS found in them. WUKA experts discuss what chemicals are in tampons and is it harmful.
Chemicals in Tampons
PFAS (Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) have been in the news recently, and you may have seen stories linking them to tampons. But what are PFAS and why are they being used in some brands of tampons?
What are PFAS?
According to the UK’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), PFAS are a family of chemicals that are made up of around 5,000 different substances. Also referred to as ‘forever chemicals’, PFAS are notoriously difficult to degrade and tend to stick around for a very long time, particularly in water.
PFAS are used because of they’re persistent durability. They enable manufacturers to make long-lasting products, such as non-stick pans; the forever chemicals help to repel water and grease, making these products more attractive to the consumer.
PFAS are also used in some skin creams and cosmetics, dishwasher rinse aid, food packagings, outdoor clothing and shoes… and more. In fact, lots of manufacturers use PFAS because they make their products so very resistant to biodegradation. Meaning, their products stick around for a very long time- and they’ve been found in our drinking water too.
What PFAS have been found in tampons?
One member of the PFAS ‘family’ is fluorine, a highly toxic chemical that has recently been confirmed to be used in some brands of tampons. Yes, you read that right. Tampons. Tampons that are inserted inside vaginas.
According to this article by Environmental Health News, 23 tampon brands were tested, including two that advertised their products as organic. Of the 23, five brands tested positive for fluorine and it’s reported that this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Scientists are concerned that fluorine is be just one of the potential chemicals that tampons could contain, with previous studies also having found phthalates and BPA present in tampons.
Why are PFAS in tampons?
Another report by the Environmental Health News states:
“It’s not clear how fluorine ends up in sanitary products. However, it’s possibly from trying to achieve moisture-wicking fabric, as PFAS are stain- and water-resistant. Or the contamination could be unintended via lubricants used in production, or manufacturers omitting data on — or simply not knowing — the raw materials.”
Intentional or not, the detection of PFAS in tampons and other period products is certainly very concerning.
Why is PFAS in tampons bad?
A 2020 study looked into the effects that PFAS can have on ovarian function and concluded that there could be serious implications for women- but more research is needed. And because there is still so little information out there on what exactly PFAS in tampons means, there is still a huge question mark hanging over its use in general. This study did, however, report that
“PFAS exposure can have lasting effects on reproductive and non-reproductive health, including disruption of fertility, reproductive lifespan and regulation of skeletal, cardiovascular and brain functions.”
PFAS are also known to be ‘endocrine disruptors’, meaning that they can interfere with the body’s hormones. This can lead to hormonal imbalances, which can have a further negative impact conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, early menopause and uterine fibroids.
This article from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences explains more, concluding that “even low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be unsafe”.
The bottom line? PFAS do not belong in anything that is being inserted into, or that sits close to the vagina.
Choose Period Pants For Safety
Avoiding PFAS in period products is a no-brainer. Using period pants just makes sense- for the environment, for your wallet and for your health and safety too.
WUKA period pants do NOT contain any added chemicals that could be harmful to you. We absolutely refuse to add any silver treatments (used by some manufactures to make a product antibacterial) and we test regularly for additional chemicals- including PFAS.
What are WUKA period pants made from?
Our period pants are made from GOTS organic cotton, Tencel and recycled nylon.
Organic cotton, grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, meets high standards when it comes to both environmental and social impact. And because there are no chemicals used, it’s kind to your skin too.
WUKA Ultimate Bikini Brief Period Pants are made from GOTS organic cotton (Global Organic Textile Standard).
Tencel is an eco-friendly fabric sourced from the pulp of carefully managed beech trees. No chemicals are released into the environment during the production of Tencel and the fibres are both compostable and biodegradable. It also makes our period pants super soft and flexible.
WUKA Ultimate Midi Brief, Ultimate Boxer Shorts, Bralette, Everyday Midi Brief and Bikini, and Ultimate High Waist are made from Tencel.
Recycled nylon takes ocean waste and transforms it. With the world currently producing more plastic that we’re recycling, this means that we can not only reduce waste, but we can also cut down on energy needed to manufacture our period pants too.
Our Perform range is made from recycled nylon.
Do WUKA period pants contain PFAS?
WUKA period pants do NOT contain PFAS. We’ve always been committed, since day one, to not using any harmful chemicals in the production of our products.
All of the materials that we use are planet friendly, animal friendly and contain no added chemicals whatsoever.
Plus, All items in each WUKA collection is independently tested by Highstreet Textile Testing Services Ltd (HTTS) who guarantee there is zero trace of PFA's in our products.
WUKA period pants are safe to use. They’re breathable, moisture-wicking and comfortable. They’re leak-proof too, so they’re the only period product you need for your menstrual cycle.
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What are PFAS examples?
PFAS are a group of persistent synthetic chemicals used in manufacturing. There are almost 5,000 different types, but the most commonly studied is PFOA, a chemical that was used in non-stick pans for a long time. Fluorine is another example, recently found in tampons.
How is PFAS harmful to humans?
More research is needed, but scientists do know that PFAS can have a negative impact on human health, with links being found to disease and fertility issues.
Do all tampons have chemicals?
Not all tampons contain chemicals. Organic tampons are most likely to be chemical-free, but there have been some cases of fluorine detection even in organic brands.
Why do tampons contain chemicals?
Chemicals are used in the production and manufacturing of tampons. This includes applicators too. Chemicals are also sometimes used to fragrance tampons.
What chemicals are in organic tampons?
Organic tampons should not contain PFAS. They are made with organic cotton, which is grown without synthetic chemicals, and some are bleached with peroxide rather than chlorine. Peroxide is a chemical compound- look for brands that do not contain this, or that state they are ‘unbleached’. Its also worth noting that some organic tampons have been found to contain fluorine, which is a PFAS