Maloney bill would study health effects and safety of feminine hygiene products

Apr 2, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) has reintroduced legislation to study the health effects of feminine hygiene products. The  Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act (H.R. 1708), directs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine through research whether feminine hygiene products that contain dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other chemical additives like chlorine, colorants and fragrances, pose health risks. Given the present lack of research there is no way of knowing if diseases such as cervical cancer, endometriosis, infertility, and ovarian cancer may be linked to a woman’s use of feminine hygiene products.

The bill also encourages Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to broaden its monitoring efforts and publicly disclose a list of contaminants within the wide range of feminine hygiene products. Currently, the FDA monitors dioxin levels in raw materials and finished tampons, but does not presently do so for the multitude of other hygiene products such as pads, liners, cups, sponges, and sprays used by millions of American women.

“American women deserve the ability to make informed decisions when buying feminine hygiene products,” said Maloney. “Given the sheer number of women who use these products it’s time we have definitive answers on their potential risks to women. Although the FDA requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, we still don’t know enough about the health risks of other chemical contaminants contained in these products. The Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act would enable research and a better understanding of additives in these products so that women can live healthy lives.”

Andrea Donsky, an expert on women’s health and founder of the group NaturallySavvy, reiterated the importance of additional research when she said, "We need proper testing to determine whether or not toxic chemicals are responsible for, or directly linked to, female health issues like breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. Once proper testing is implemented and conducted, the facts will speak for themselves."

"We know that formaldehyde releasers, dioxin, pesticides and other harmful chemicals are found in feminine care products. What we don't know is exactly how these chemicals are impacting women's health.  This bill will help provide research into a critical area that has been greatly overlooked" Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women's Voices for the Earth.

“Internally worn products, such as tampons and cups, are worn in the most absorbent part of the body, off and on, for literally decades. Yet there is a paucity of independent research that addresses the potential risks associated with these and other menstrual products,” said Chris Bobel, Society for Menstrual Cycle Research President-elect and author of New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation.

The legislation is endorsed by The Society for Menstrual Research, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, NaturallySavvy, Teens Turning Green, Search for the Cause, Annie Appleseed Project, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Congresswoman Maloney first introduced legislation related to tampon safety in the 105th Congress with the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997. In 1999, Congresswoman Maloney introduced the Robin Danielson Act. Subsequent versions of the bill were introduced in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014.