Recently I came across a line of organic cotton tampons by a company called L. when I went on my usual monthly run to Target. I talk a lot about how the chemicals in packaged “food” are linked to several lifestyle diseases, and how it’s best to stick to clean, whole foods in your diet. When I saw these organic feminine products, I got to thinking about why there was a need for such a thing, and how many chemicals I was probably putting in or on my body in ways I hadn’t thought about before.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and has the potential to be highly absorbent, depending on the substance. As I mentioned in my Epsom salt post, it would appear that magnesium sulfate is not easily absorbed by the skin. However, methyl salicylate, which is the active ingredient in Icy Hot, is.
It isn’t realistic to check the ingredients in every makeup product or body cream I slather on to find out whether my body is absorbing it, and if so, whether it’s something that’s going to kill me. For the most part, I’ll continue to trust that the epidermis is a sufficient barrier.
However, it’s striking how much more absorbent internal tissues (like vaginal tissue and the colon) are than the epidermis. Just ask these students from the University of Tennessee.
With that knowledge, it seems worth asking what we might be putting into our bodies when we use tampons and pads.
The biggest offenders appear to be dioxin (a carcinogen), chloroform, and chlorine bleach. Most major manufacturers of feminine care products argue either that the amounts of these substances found in tampons and pads are trace amounts not harmful to humans or that we are exposed to worse in the very air that we breathe.
Factually, those arguments may be true. But what they don’t address is the difference between acute toxicity and chronic toxicity. The former results in immediate health issues upon exposure to very low concentrations of a substance; the latter results in health issues over an extended period of exposure.
Given that the average woman will use 12,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime, that’s enough “trace” exposure to make me pay attention.
While there are women in government trying to get the FDA to require ingredients lists on feminine product packaging, it still is not (and never has been) required. Personally, knowing that I might be absorbing chloroform in any quantity each month is enough for me to seek out alternatives.
Enter L.’s product line. L. offers a subscription service which you can customize, mixing and matching the right amount of each product you need, and have delivered to your door each month. Alternatively, you can find them right next to the other brands in the feminine hygiene aisle at Target, and you might be surprised to learn that they are no more expensive than their potentially harmful non-organic counterparts. Furthermore, an important part of L.’s mission is their “one for one” concept; for every product sold, another is donated to a female entrepreneur in a developing country for distribution to women in need of access to these important care products.
L.’s products are 100% certified organic cotton. I was apprehensive about leaks initially (TMI?) but I personally had no issues. The only thing I noticed is that an L. regular absorbency is more comparable to a light absorbency in any other brand, and their super absorbency product is more akin to the regular absorbency I was used to. Otherwise, I’ve noticed nothing odd about them and can only say I wish I’d found them sooner!