Rep. Maloney Wants NIH to Study Safety of Feminine Hygiene Products

May 4, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – In an effort to shed light on the health effects of various feminine hygiene products, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) has reintroduced the Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act (H.R. 2379). The legislation 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.

“American women should be able to make informed decisions when buying feminine hygiene products, and to do so they need research and data,” said Rep. Maloney. “Given the sheer number of women who use these products and the number used over a women’s lifetime, we need 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 make the best choices for themselves and their personal health.”

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.

"Given the virtually universal use of these products by women over their lifetime, it is imperative that we learn more - do more - to better protect women’s health," said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women's Voices for the Earth. "We know that formaldehyde releasers, dioxin, pesticides and other harmful chemicals are ending up 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 and provide women with the knowledge they need to make informed decision about their 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 and author of New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation.

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, 2014, and 2015.