Part of the Swedish government’s assignment to map hazardous chemical substances in products and articles that are available to the general public, the agency conducted a survey of hazardous chemical substances in feminine hygiene products.
In the survey the agency conducted studies of literature and qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses of 35 different feminine hygiene products, studying what hazardous chemical substances the products contain and in what concentrations. A total of 62 chemical substances were analysed. Among these we found 21 hazardous chemical substances mainly in low concentrations and none of the substances are prohibited in these types of products. Reference to "low concentrations" in this report mean concentrations of less than 0.1% by weight.
“In our judgement, the risk to health from using the menstrual products and other feminine hygiene products that we have investigated is low. Anyone who uses these products can continue to do so without being concerned about negative effects on health from chemicals,” says Amanda Rosen, an inspector at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has not found any residues of the pesticide glyphosate or its degradation product AMPA in the products analysed.
“Our conclusion on the basis of our own analyses and earlier studies is that there is no reason to be concerned about glyphosate in for example tampons and sanitary towels,” Amanda Rosen continues.
For its survey the Swedish Chemicals Agency purchased feminine hygiene products in Swedish shops and on the web. In addition to sanitary towels, tampons and menstrual cups, the survey included products that are also used outside the menstruation period such as panty liners and incontinence products. The Swedish Chemicals Agency looked for 62 hazardous and suspected hazardous chemical substances in the products. Of these, a total of 21 substances were detected during the analyses, almost exclusively in low concentrations. None of the substances are prohibited in these types of products.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has made an overall risk assessment for 18 of the 21 substances that were found in the products and in the agency’s judgement the risk to health is low. In some menstrual cups three substances were found that the Swedish Chemicals Agency was not able to make a risk assessment for, since there is not sufficient information about the substances available.
“We have no information that indicates that these three substances constitute a health risk. The concentrations of the substances that were measured are also low,” says Amanda Rosen.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency will carry on a dialogue with the companies to make them aware of the analysis findings in the report regarding the three substances for which the agency was not able to make a risk assessment.
The survey of chemicals in menstrual products and other feminine hygiene products is part of the Government´s assignment to the Swedish Chemicals Agency to map hazardous chemical substances in products and goods that are available to the general public. Further reasons why the Swedish Chemicals Agency has mapped feminine hygiene products are that they are used regularly by large parts of the population and that the Swedish Chemicals Agency has a responsibility to supervise these products.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency has not made any assessment of the risk of discomfort or complications caused by factors other than the chemical content of the products, for example Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that is caused by bacteria and can occur from using tampons. Such assessments are not included in the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s assignment.