US consumer group Women’s Voices for the Earth have staged a protest outside Procter & Gamble’s headquarters, demanding greater transparency from the FMCG manufacturer when it comes to disclosing the ingredients used in the manufacture of sanitary napkins and tampons.
“Our concerns of the care products was the lack of ingredient disclosure,” Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science and Research for Women’s Voices for the Earth told CNN. Tests carried out by the group found sanitary pads emitted chemicals such as styrene, chloroethane and chloroform. The former is classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. P&G counters that these are naturally occurring chemicals found in ambient air, and the study did not measure the composition in the products themselves. “There is more styrene in strawberries than there is in the air sample they measured in this study,” said Tucker Helmes, Executive Director of industry trade group Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products.
Manufacturers, including P&G and Kimberley-Clark have responded to the pleas for greater disclosure by publishing additional information on their websites, but lobbyists remain concerned that a complete ingredients list is yet to be made available. “Every single product contained in a tampon has to be researched. We already know the fibers contain dozens of chemicals, polyester contains hundreds of chemicals. It’s not just a fiber you put in the vaginal vault,” said Philip Tierno of the New York University School of Medicine.
A spokesperson for P&G, Tonia Elrod, claimed, “Our products are safe. That’s the foundation of everything that we do. We’re working with university scientists, FDA. Women can use our products safely.”