Tampax tampons and Always sanitary towels among feminine hygiene products 'contain toxic chemicals'

The findings caused a brand of 'organic' items to withdraw more than 3,000 products in France and Canada

Tampax, Always and several other brands of tampons and sanitary towels being sold in France may contain “potentially toxic residues”, it has been claimed.

A study by 60 Millions de Consommateurs magazine reportedly found traces of chemicals including dioxins and insecticides in five of 11 products tested.

The findings caused a brand manufacturing “organic” feminine hygiene products to withdraw a batch of 3,100 boxes of sanitary towels on sale in France and Canada.

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Sanitary towels and tampons were tested

Corman, which makes Organyc panty liners, told the AFP news agency it conducted its own analysis that confirmed the trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer, in its cotton-based products.

There has been extensive debate over whether the widely used chemical is carcinogenic and the firm said the move was merely a “precaution” while it investigates its supply chain of raw materials.

A spokesperson for Corman said residual traces of glyphosate were found in one sample that "should not have been present in organic cotton".

"Even though the percentage of residual toxins found in the specific sample was minimal and not proven to be dangerous we decided to withdraw products from one lot as a precaution," he added. "For us, the most important thing is the safety and health of our customers."

Researchers at 60 Millions also claimed to have found traces of halogenated waste, a by-product related to the processing of raw materials, in Tampax Compak Active Regular Fresh tampons and residues of organochlorine pesticides and pyrethroid insecticides in some Always sanitary towels. Manufacturers said the results were a "mistake".

Highly toxic dioxins, which can be cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and damage the immune system, according to the World Health Organisation, were also found in products by the o.b and Nett brands.

The report has caused France’s National Institution for Consumers to demand the government enforces stricter controls on feminine hygiene products and greater transparency around labelling, The Local reported.

Meanwhile, a petition started last year calling for companies to list all components to make women fully aware of any potential health risks has reached almost 190,000 signatures.

Mélanie Doerflinger, who launched the petition, told BFM TV: “When we buy cosmetic products we can get information on what they contain and how they are made, but when it comes to something we use every day that is in contact with our intimate parts, we have no knowledge of what is in it.”

Proctor & Gamble, which owns Tampax and Always, told the Independent its products were safe and contain "thoroughly-assessed" materials that have been used in feminine hygiene products for many years.

"The safety assessments have been reviewed by a committee of independent experts: physicians, scientists and health authorities," a spokesperson added. 

"The “60 million consumers” mentioning of Dioxin in Tampax is a mistake. The cotton and rayon purification used for our tampons involves an elemental chlorine-free process which does not cause the production of dioxin.  This has been confirmed by their analysis."

The company put the claims down to the use of an organic solvent in testing that does "not reflect the physiological conditions of use of our products", adding: "Analyses conducted by us during the past three years on comparable products and evaluating over 200 pesticides substances confirms the total absence of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides."

A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures Nett and o.b tampons, said it used “only materials respecting all the safety criteria”.

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