Study Reveals Toxic Metals In Tampons, Sparking Health Concerns

A recent study has uncovered alarming levels of toxic metals, including lead and arsenic, in various tampon brands. The study, published in Environment International, examined 18 product lines from 14 different brands and found concentrations of several hazardous heavy metals.

“Heavy metals bind to parts of your cells that prevent your organs from doing their job. Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can be life-threatening and they can cause irreversible damage,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The researchers tested for arsenic, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium, strontium, vanadium and zinc. They found measurable concentrations of all 16 metals assessed. Notably, lead levels were higher in non-organic tampons, while organic tampons contained more arsenic. No single category had consistently lower concentrations of metals across the board.

The brands involved in the study were not disclosed, but they are available for purchase in the U.S., U.K., and Greece. The study highlights the lack of regulations in the U.S., EU, and U.K. regarding potential contaminants in tampons. None of these governments require manufacturers to test their products for harmful chemicals, including metals.

Jenni Shearston, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, emphasized the need for further investigation.

“We cannot yet say that people should not be using tampons. So far, we know that metals are present in all the samples we tested. However, we do not know yet if metals leach out of the tampon and whether they are absorbed by the body. We therefore cannot yet assess to what extent [if any] metals in tampons contribute to any health problems,” Shearston said.

The FDA has responded to the study, with a spokesperson telling CBS MoneyWatch that the agency is reviewing the findings. “While the chemical method used indicates these metals are present in the tampons tested in the laboratory, the study does not assess whether any metals are released from tampons when used in the body. It also does not address whether any metal, if released, can be absorbed into the vaginal lining or, subsequently into the bloodstream,” the spokesperson stated. “We plan to evaluate the study closely and take any action warranted to safeguard the health of consumers who use these products.”

This study raises serious questions about the safety of tampons and underscores the need for stricter regulations and further research to ensure consumer safety.