Green thinking – Red flow. Part 2: Chemicals

chemicals

We live in a world with a million products to choose from – many of which are made with ingredients we do not know what are, and which have never been tested for potential harming effects on neither humans nor the environment!

More and more women suffer from hormonal imbalances and other “lifestyle” illnesses. And people ask themselves why?
PCOS and endometriosis are becoming more and more common.

Some find the cure to their problems in hormonal treatments or other medicines; others in lifestyle changes.
I became curious as to the cause…
Well, actually it started out with me wanting to write a series of posts raising awareness to the environmental burden of disposable conventional menstrual products… But what I found made my mind boggle and changed my focus.

This 3 part series is my research on menstrual products – the disposable and the reusable ones – and the effect they have on the human body.

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Small facts with big implication: 

This post series is about menstrual periods and products. (Read part 1 here)

In order to write something meaningful about this topic I felt like I needed to do a great amount of research – testing things I thought I knew and getting some new knowledge along the way.

In this second post I am going to share with you the research I did on the chemicals used in conventional pads and tampons – those we know are present and those that most likely are there.
What this really boils down to is “knowledge” and whether or not you are awakening to the truth…

I knew half of the truth but chose to close my eyes to the rest – I am ashamed to admit it but there it is…
Out of convenience and habit I ignored what I knew to be true for a long time and I hurt myself in doing so.

This is my awakening and I hope that you will read along as well and help make a difference by doing so – for you; for me; for us all, really!

In Denmark (a small country in Scandinavia with around 5 million inhabitants) 1 million tampons/pads are used every day!
That is a whooping 365.000.000 every year!!!

Studies have shown that a tampon takes 50-100 years to decompose, while a pad takes at least 150 years!!!
Just think of that for a while!

The chemicals we don’t speak of: 

Conventional tampons and pads are treated with several chemicals in order to absorb better, look white, blue or purple and even to smell nice…

Earlier all tampons and pads were made from cotton – organic or not… However today that is not the case.
Often they are made from viscose, polyacrylate, polypropylene, chlorine bleached cellulose and rayon fibers… And that is just what we know…

As I wrote about in part 1 of this series (see that here), the companies producing tampons and pads need not disclose what they use in their products. This is because tampons and pads are considered “medical devises”.

What is known comes from testing and guesswork…

However, I think that this is an important topic for us to talk about.

Putting chemicals on the skin, could, argumentatively, be said to be worse than eating them – after all, when you eat them the enzymes in your saliva and stomach will help break them down and flush them out of your body… When you put them on you skin they are absorbed directly into the blood stream..
Would we eat the chemicals used in these products if we had to?

Well, let us talk about some of the chemicals I just mentioned above:

Polyacrylate:

I could have left this one out, because it is no longer used in tampons.
But I chose to still write about it because it was in tampons until recently – and it is still found in disposable diapers.

Polyacrylate is also known as “waterlock”.
It is a sodium salt of polyacrylic acid, with the ability to absorb as much as 200 to 300 times its mass in water.

When used in tampons – and still in diapers – it was responsible for absorbing moisture.
It was removed from tampons because it was found to cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
It can be tied to other staph infections as well, and is a skin irritant because it absorbs all naturally occurring oils and moisture from the skin. (Diaper rash does not seem as inexplicable or random to me anymore….)

Rayon fibers: 

While highly absorbent, these fibers cause irritation to the skin. It is estimated that while the rayon fibers in tampons absorb 65% of the menstrual blood, they also absorb 35% on the natural moisture from the vagina.
This causes an imbalance in the moisture and pH-balance of the vagina, thus effecting the natural bacterial flora. When the bacterial flora in the vagina is out of balance the risk of getting infections and TSS is higher.

When used in tampons they scratch the inner lining of the vagina, causing micro scrapes that are then more susceptible to the different chemicals/toxins in the products.

Chlorine for bleaching:

Why tampons and pads are bleached will forever remain a mystery to me – my menstrual blood does not need a pristine white canvas to paint red…
But it must have been proven that a majority of women like their menstrual products to be white… Maybe they feel that it looks cleaner?? I don’t know…

What ever the reason – the conventional products are bleached.
To bleach the tampons and pads, chlorine is often used… (Again this is also used in disposable diapers)

When you bleach something with chlorine, a byproduct named dioxin occurs. (This is just one of the byproducts!)

Dioxin is a cell poison.
Dioxin accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues and does not leave.
The more you are exposed to it over the years, the more of it there will be in your body.
According to a draft report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxin is a “serious public health threat with no “safe” level of exposure.”

It has been reported that dioxin can cause tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs – like endometriosis.

I might have endometriosis, (still being tested) so maybe you can imagine my surprise when I realized this connection.
(If you don’t know, endometriosis – “endo” for short – is a painful condition caused by the lining of the uterus as it travels outside of the uterus and wraps itself around e.g. the intestine, causing polyps and cramping)

Furthermore, dioxins are responsible for a range of reproductive and developmental problems.
It is can cause abnormal cell growth throughout the body.
It damages the immune system, and can cause major hormonal imbalances and even cancer.

Other chemicals: 

I was reading up on some of the research on this topic, while writing this..

I came across a woman named Andrea Donsky, (founder of Naturally Savvy).
According to her research, each conventional pad contains the equivalent of about 4 plastic bags!!!!! (I had to read that a few times!!!)

With all the things we know about plastic chemicals, this is really scary and cause to serious concern!
Just to give a few examples of what that means:

  • Plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS are linked to heart disease and cancer, as well as disrupting embryonic development…
  • Phthalates, (used to give the paper tampon applicators a smooth feel and finish) are known to dysregulate gene expression.

She further remarks upon the fact that while cotton crops only make up 2.4% of the world’s land, each year $2 billion is used on pesticides for just this one crop! So it is very likely – if not obvious – that the conventional, non organic tampons contain pesticides.
In her book Label Lessons, she also states that 94% of all the cotton planted in the US is genetically engineered… She questions, if inserting a GMO tampon in your vagina several times a month is really any different from eating GMO food?

Other chemicals that are used more and more in pads are odor neutralizers and fragrances – all of which are linked to several disturbing things like hormone disruption, cancer, blood defects, dryness and infertility.

 

I am actually struggling to find a great way to end this post…

I believe the information above speak for itself!
I can only say that I hope this information has made you think about what you put in contact with your body.

There are alternatives that are great and work just as well – maybe even better. But we have all been told for so long that the conventional products are the easy and right choice if we want freedom in our everyday life….

Now that I know more (and I am frankly slightly scared and frustrated!) – I have decided that it is time to learn more about the alternatives to the conventional products…

Read more in the following post of the “Green thinking – Red flow” series… (Part 3 will be on the alternative and natural menstrual products)

 

Thank you so much for reading along.
Please, feel free and welcome to comment down below. I love hearing from you.

Love <3
AK 

 

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