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HomeEntertainmentArsenic has been found in tampons – should we be worried?

Arsenic has been found in tampons – should we be worried?



Meg Walters

If you’ve read the recent headlines about findings of arsenic in tampons – not to mention other ‘toxic’ metals – and you’re somebody with a uterus, the chances are you’re pretty horrified.

In a shocking recent study, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley discovered traces of arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, copper and iron in tampons – leaving many women wondering how safe their menstrual care products really are.

“Despite this large potential for public health concern, very little research has been done to measure chemicals in tampons,” said Jenni Shearston, lead author of the study. “To our knowledge, this is the first paper to measure metals in tampons. Concerningly, we found concentrations of all metals we tested for, including toxic metals like arsenic and lead.”

The mere idea of arsenic in tampons is certainly concerning. After all, exposure to the metals found in these menstrual products have been previously linked to a range of health issues, including dementia, infertility, diabetes, heart and cancer, along with damage to the cardiovascular, nervous, and endocrine systems. But how worried should we really be?

“Arsenic, lead and other toxic metals are known to be harmful at high levels of exposure,” Dr. Amit Shah, a gynaecologist and co-founder of Harley St. clinic Fertility Plus, tells GLAMOUR.

However, although this may all sound pretty dramatic, it is worth noting that we are actually all exposed to small doses of these metals all of the time — whether we use tampons regularly or not. In fact, they can occur in our food, in our water, even in the everyday environments that surround us.

“It is also worth noting that we are exposed to trace amounts of various metals in our everyday lives through food, water and air,” says Shah. “The body has mechanisms to handle and eliminate small amounts of these substances.”

According to Shah, there is a big difference between high levels of exposure and trace amounts. “The reported concentrations found in tampons are significantly lower than levels known to cause harm,” she says. “The body’s natural detoxification processes are usually capable of handling small quantities of these substances without adverse effects.”

The most recent study does not look into the health impact that these metals are having on people who do use tampons. In other words, we still don’t know whether or not the new findings are actually a real cause for concern.

“It is completely understandable that women may feel anxious upon hearing about the presence of arsenic [and other metals] in tampons,” says Shah. “However, it’s important to approach this information with a balanced perspective. As these findings are so new, we do not yet know whether the levels of arsenic and other metals found are high enough to imply a significant health risk.”

In other words, you may not want to throw away all of your tampons just yet. Shah recommends staying informed about any future studies.

“It is essential to recognise that scientific research is a continually evolving field, and one study alone does not provide a definitive conclusion,” she says. “The findings in this paper highlight the need for further investigation to fully understand the implications, and more research is indeed necessary to determine the long-term effects, if any, of these trace amounts of metals. It’s vital to continue research and monitoring to ensure that these products remain safe, especially considering their widespread use.”

If you are concerned about your current menstrual care routine, we recommend speaking to your doctor to find products that you feel comfortable using. If you’re concerned about using tampons, menstrual cups and period pants can be a wonderful alternative.



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