Hazardous Metals Found In Tampons, Study Reveals

A groundbreaking study has revealed the presence of toxic metals, such as lead and arsenic, in various tampon brands. Published in Environment International, the research examined 18 product lines from 14 brands, finding concentrations of multiple hazardous metals.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Heavy metals bind to parts of your cells that prevent your organs from doing their job. Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can be life-threatening and they can cause irreversible damage.”

The study tested for arsenic, barium, calcium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel, lead, selenium, strontium, vanadium, and zinc, detecting measurable concentrations of all 16 metals. Lead was found in higher amounts in non-organic tampons, while organic tampons had more arsenic. No category showed consistently lower levels of all metals.

Although the specific tampon brands were not named, they are available in the U.S., U.K., and Greece. The research underscores a significant regulatory gap, as the U.S., EU and U.K. do not mandate testing for harmful chemicals, including metals, in tampons.

Jenni Shearston, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, stated, “We cannot yet say that people should not be using tampons. So far, we know that metals are present in all the samples we tested. However, we do not know yet if metals leach out of the tampon and whether they are absorbed by the body. We therefore cannot yet assess to what extent [if any] metals in tampons contribute to any health problems.”

The FDA is now reviewing the study’s findings. A spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch, “While the chemical method used indicates these metals are present in the tampons tested in the laboratory, the study does not assess whether any metals are released from tampons when used in the body. It also does not address whether any metal, if released, can be absorbed into the vaginal lining or, subsequently into the bloodstream. We plan to evaluate the study closely and take any action warranted to safeguard the health of consumers who use these products.”

This revelation calls attention to the need for stricter regulations and further research to ensure the safety of tampon users.