Read also The Tampon Safety and Research Act of
1999, H. R. 890
Read the comments of Dr. Philip Tierno, Jr., about the safety of menstrual products.
And, of course, the first Tampax AND - special
for you! - the American fax tampon,
from the early 1930s, which also came in bags.
See a Modess True or False? ad in The American
Girl magazine, January 1947, and actress Carol Lynley
in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter" booklet ad (1955) - Modess . . . . because ads (many dates).
The Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997," (H.R. 2900), U.S.A.
(Read also The Tampon Safety and Research Act
of 1999, H. R. 890)
See my discussion of this important legislation,
and how to find out who your congresswoman/man is
and call him or her - it's easy! Unless you call, this bill could
"My bill would direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct
research to determine the extent to which the presence of dioxin, synthetic
fibers, and other additives in tampons and related menstruation products
pose any health risks to women. An NIH study would
mean that American women could depend on independent research, and not on
the word of research funded by tampon manufacturers." [Excerpt
from the following statement by Rep. Maloney]
Statement by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney upon
introduction of "The Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997,"
(H.R. 2900), November 11, 1997:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce an important piece of women's
health legislation -- "The Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997."
The research called for in this bipartisan bill will finally give women
the accurate information they need to make informed decisions about their
health as it relates to tampon use.
Why is this issue important? Because tampons and other related products
often contain additives, synthetic fibers, and dioxin. Dioxin is a toxic
by-product of the paper manufacturing process. Wood pulp, as well as the
rayon used in nearly all tampons, undergoes several production processes;
a common method is chlorine bleaching, a process which results in the formation
of dioxin and other contaminants. As a result, trace amounts of dioxin is
present in most paper products, from toilet paper to tampons.
Dioxins are also found in varying levels throughout the environment,
but are women being subjected to additional and potentially avoidable exposures
to dioxin through tampon use? Let me put dioxin in perspective, because
we only have to consult recent history to know of the potentially disastrous
effects of this substance. Dioxin is a member of the organochlorine group,
which includes the contaminants found in Agent Orange, the Vietnam War-era
defoliant, and at Love Canal.
But let's consult the experts, too. According to a 1994 report issued
by the Environmental Protection Agency, dioxins are a known animal cancer-causing
agent as well as a probable human carcinogen. My bill is specifically concerned
with the possible links between dioxin in tampons and ovarian, cervical,
and breast cancers, as well as other potential hazards.
A 1996 EPA study has also linked dioxin exposure with increased risks
for endometriosis, an often painful menstrual-related condition that is
a leading cause of infertility.
Further, the EPA has concluded that people with high exposure to dioxins
may be at risk for other effects that could suppress the immune system,
increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, reduce fertility, and
possibly interfere with normal fetal and childhood development.
The EPA conclusions regarding dioxin exposure are particularly alarming
in light of a 1989 Food and Drug Administration report, which stated that
"possible exposures from all other medical device sources would be
dwarfed by the potential tampon exposure." Why? Because tampons are
used by up to 70% of menstruating women in the United States, and the average
woman may use as many as 11,400 tampons during her lifetime. If dioxin is
putting women at risk, could the long-term use of tampons increase that
What makes these toxic residues in tampons even more disturbing is that
they come in direct contact with some of the most absorbent tissue in a
woman's body. According to Dr. Philip
Tierno, Jr., [link added] director of microbiology and immunology at
New York University Medical Center, almost anything placed on this tissue
-- including dioxin -- gets absorbed into the body.
According to researchers, dioxin is stored in fatty tissue -- just like
that found in the vagina. And the fact is that women have more body fat
than men, possibly allowing them to more efficiently store dioxins from
all sources, not just tampons. Worse yet, the effects of dioxin are cumulative,
and can be measured as much as 20 or 30 years after exposure. This accumulation
is cause for particular concern, because a woman may be exposed to dioxin
in tampons for approximately 40 years over the course of her reproductive
The question, of course, is why it is acceptable to have this toxic
substance in tampons -- despite the advice of an FDA scientist to the contrary.
A 1989 agency document reported that "the most effective risk management
strategy would be to assure that tampons, and menstrual pads for good measure,
contain no dioxin." And why has there been far more testing on the
possible health effects of chlorine-bleached coffee filters than on chlorine-bleached
tampons and related products? My bill seeks to address this inadequacy,
and finally give women the most accurate, up-to-date information available
regarding this critical health concern.
Although the FDA currently requires tampon manufacturers to monitor
dioxin levels in their finished products, the results are not available
to the public. When I -- as a Member of Congress -- requested the information,
the FDA told me it was proprietary information and therefore could not be
released. It should be noted that the dioxin tests relied upon by the FDA
are done by the manufacturers themselves, who not surprisingly insist their
products are safe. Some of my constituents say this is the equivalent of
the fox guarding the hen house.
How much dioxin exposure is considered safe for humans? And does the
fact that tampons are in direct contact with absorbent tissue, and for extended
periods of time, make whatever levels of dioxin tampons possess even more
dangerous? Is this the equivalent of a ticking time bomb, capable of increasing
women's risks for several life-threatening or fertility-threatening diseases?
Unfortunately there are no easy answers. We simply don't have instructive,
persuasive evidence either way.
Many experts believe, however, that if the slightest possibility exists
that dioxin residues in tampons could harm women, the dioxin should simply
be eliminated. I also believe we should err on the side of protecting women's
health. Tampon manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients to
consumers, although many have taken the positive step of voluntarily disclosing
this information. However, women are still being forced to take the word
of the industry-sponsored research that their products are completely safe.
My bill also addresses the many other potentially harmful additives
in tampons, including chlorine compounds, absorbency enhancers, and synthetic
fibers, as well as deodorants and fragrances. Most people are surprised
to learn that these additives are commonly found in these products.
We do not really know enough about the potential risks associated with
such additives. Independent research has already shown that synthetic fiber
additives in tampons amplify toxins, which are associated with Toxic Shock.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare bacterial illness that caused over 50 deaths
between 1979 and 1980, when the link between tampons and Toxic Shock was
first established. According to a 1994 study, of the Toxic Shock cases occurring
in menstruating women, up to 99% were using tampons.
Obviously Toxic Shock Syndrome is still a women's health concern, and
its link to tampons has become more clear.
The fact is, women do not have the information they need to make sound
decisions about their health. For the sake of women's well-being, we need
accurate, independent information. American women have a right to know about
any potential hazards associated with tampons and other related products.
It is only when women fully understand the consequences that they can make
truly informed decisions about their reproductive health.
I should also note that my bill is not the first time a Member of Congress
has expressed concern about this issue. In 1992, the late Rep. Ted Weiss
of New York brought the issue up in a subcommittee hearing of the Committee
on Government Operations. He did this after his staff had uncovered internal
FDA documents which suggested the agency had not adequately investigated
the danger of dioxin in tampons.
My bill would direct the National Institutes of
Health to conduct research to determine the extent to which the presence
of dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other additives in tampons and related
menstruation products pose any health risks to women. An NIH study would
mean that American women could depend on independent research, and not on
the word of research funded by tampon manufacturers. [Color added.]
Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleagues will join me in this fight to get
accurate health information to the women of America. Their future fertility,
and perhaps their lives, may depend on it.
Go to Rep. Maloney's Home
See my discussion of this important
legislation, and how to find out who your congresswoman/man is and call
her or him - it's easy! Unless you call, this bill could DIE!
See my discussion of this important legislation
in the U. S. Congress (actually, the previous, but similar, legislation
of 1997), and how
to find out who your congresswoman/man is
and call him or her - it's easy! Unless
you call, this bill could DIE! [Um, it's dead.]
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