Are your tampons harming you? Study finds 16 metals in widely available brands

Toxic metals including lead and arsenic were detected.
Posted at 1:25 PM, Jul 08, 2024

New research suggests tampons could be a potential source of metal exposure.

The study, published in the Environment International journal, is presumed to be the first to measure metals in tampons.

Researchers tested for 16 metals in 30 tampons from 14 different brands and 18 product lines.

The study detected the presence of all 16 metals that were tested for. This included toxic metals like lead, which has no “safe” exposure level, according to the study.

The study also found elevated mean concentrations of other toxic metals, like arsenic and cadmium, in tampons.

Other metals detected included barium, calcium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, strontium, vanadium, and zinc.

The metals may be getting absorbed during the agricultural or manufacturing processes of tampons — and it’s possible those metals could then be absorbed by the vagina’s highly absorptive tissue, the study said.

But the study did not determine whether or not tampons can expose wearers to the metals.

“Future research is needed to replicate our findings and determine whether metals can leach out of tampons and cross the vaginal epithelium into systemic circulation,” said the study.

The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tampons sold in the U.S., told Scripps News it is evaluating the research.

“The FDA is reviewing the study. All studies have limitations. While the chemical method used indicates these metals are present in the tampons tested in the laboratory, the study does not assess whether any metals are released from tampons when used in the body,” the FDA told Scripps News.

“It also does not address whether any metal, if released, can be absorbed into the vaginal lining, or subsequently into the bloodstream. We plan to evaluate the study closely, and take any action warranted to safeguard the health of consumers who use these products," said the FDA.

The FDA said before any tampons can be sold in the U.S., they must undergo a “premarket review” to ensure they are safe and effective.

About 52% to 86% of people who menstruate in the U.S. use tampons, the study says.

The study did not identify the tampon brands used in the research.