Maloney bill would study health effects of menstrual hygiene products

May 28, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today introduced an updated version of her legislation to study the health effects of menstrual hygiene products. The Robin Danielson Act of 2014 would require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research whether menstrual hygiene products that contain dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other chemical additives like chlorine and fragrances, pose health risks.

The bill also encourages the FDA to monitor and publicly disclose the presence of a broad list of contaminants within the wide range of menstrual hygiene products. The FDA already monitors dioxin levels in raw materials and finished tampons, but does not presently do so for pads, liners, cups, sponges and similar products used by millions of American women.

“American women spend over $2 billion per year on menstrual hygiene products,” said Maloney. “While the Food and Drug Administration requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, this information is not readily available to the public. We also need more information on the presence of chemical contaminants in other menstrual hygiene products. The Robin Danielson Act would invest in new research to help women better understand the risks associated with hygiene products so that they can make informed decisions about their health.”

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."

“A number of different chemicals of concern may be found in feminine care products, but there simply has not been sufficient research to determine the effects of these chemicals on one of the most sensitive and absorptive areas of a woman’s body,” said Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science and Research for Women’s Voices for the Earth and author of the report Chem Fatale. “Given the universal use of these products by women over their lifetimes, it is imperative that we learn more to better protect women’s health.”

“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. “This gap in knowledge potentially puts consumers at risk. Women deserve up- to-  date and accessible safety information about their menstrual care, without it, they cannot make informed choices about how to best care for their bodies.”

The legislation is endorsed by The Society for Menstrual Research, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Teens Turning Green, Search for the Cause, Annie Appleseed Project, Empire State Consumer Project, Breast Cancer Fund, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), and Alaska Community Action on Toxics

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, and 2011.