Research risks posed by dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other additives in feminine hygiene products
Today, approximately 73,000,000 women in the United States use tampons made of cotton and rayon and the average woman may use as many as 16,800 tampons in her lifetime. Rayon is a synthetic fiber produced from bleached wood pulp. During this process, dioxin, a probable cancer-causing agent, is created. Although chlorine-free bleaching processes are available, most wood pulp manufacturers use elemental chlorine-free bleaching processes, which continue to produce dioxin. Due to a lack of access to timely and comprehensive information, most women are not fully aware of the potential risks associated with the use of menstrual hygiene products, particularly tampons and pads. Dioxins in tampons and other menstrual hygiene products have not been adequately monitored, analyzed, or reported.
Like thousands of others, Robin Danielson, whom the bill is named after, was the victim of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but potentially life-threatening illness that is often linked to high-absorbency tampon use. Robin's death could have been prevented if only she had recognized the symptoms. Even today, many women are not fully aware of the risks of tampon use or symptoms of TSS.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one to two of every 100,000 women between the ages of 15-44 years old will be diagnosed with TSS each year. Yet, the last national surveillance was conducted in 1987 and reporting of TSS by the states is voluntary. It is clear we do not have enough transparent or timely information to evaluate the severity and risk of TSS today.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has recently introduced into Congress a piece of legislation, HR 4746, The Robin Danielson Act, that would advance the menstrual health and safety of girls and women everywhere. This legislation is necessary to provide women with accurate information about the safety of menstrual products and to increase awareness about the risk of TSS. The bill would require appropriate Federal agencies to conduct research and make available to the public information about the potential contaminants in menstrual products, particularly tampons and pads.
Please help us shine a light on what goes into the manufacturing of this important product.
I am writing to urge your support and co-sponsorship of HR 4746, The Robin Danielson Act, that was recently introduced by your colleague, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. The bill is aimed at providing better safety and health care for girls and women through more effective testing and public information about the quality of widely used menstrual health products.
It is important to note that this bill does not involve controversial areas of women's health such as abortion or contraception. Rather, it provides a means for members of Congress to address an important safety and health concern that affects virtually all girls and women between the ages of 13 and 50. Simply, the act 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 has already been endorsed by a wide variety of women's, consumer, and environmental organizations, including the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.
Should you desire more details about the intentions of the legislation or the positive ways to help advance the safety and health needs of girls and women, I would be happy to provide more information. Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing your views on the bill and hope that you will give it your full support.
Thank you for considering this request.
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