Lead and arsenic may be in your tampons, first-of-its kind tampon study finds

A new, first-of-its kind study has many wondering: Are tampons safe?

A first-of-its-kind study finds a potential health risk associated with using tampons. The recent research out of UC Berkeley found that many tampons on the market, including organic and non-organic, may contain toxic metals, such as lead and arsenic. The researchers looked at tampons sold both in the United States and Europe.

The study was published July third by the journal ‘Environment International.’ Researchers analyzed 30 tampons from 14 tampon brands. All were found to have measurable concentrations of at least 16 different metals.

“Some tampons had higher concentrations of one metal, lower concentrations of another,” Jenni A. Shearston, Ph.D., the lead author on the paper, told TODAY.com. “There wasn’t a specific tampon that we tested that seemed to have ... a lower concentration of all the metals.”

Study authors say although people are regularly exposed to low levels of toxic metals, using tampons could put women at a higher risk for exposure because the vagina has a higher potential for chemical absorption than skin on other parts of the body.

Still, they say more research is needed to determine whether the metals can affect your health.

As for how the metals got into the tampons, it’s unclear. Study authors said the cotton could have absorbed the metals from the environment or nearby contaminants or, they could have come from additives like pigment, whiteners or antibacterial agents.


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