Tampons, The Ugly Truth: Paying A Premium For Contaminated Materials

Oh, this is the Tuesday morning feature we needed to write... Not.

The gender divide is such that even in the most liberal industries, there is still a pay gap preventing women from being remunerated fairly and proportionately for the work they do compared to their male counterparts.

On top of this, we have the "women tax" - an unofficial levy that allows companies selling convenience items to price them up as "luxury" items (including a 5% real tax on some of them), which is why women will pay three times the price for the same disposable razor as a man would.

Tampons, the sinister side. [REX]
Tampons, the sinister side. [REX]

And a LOT of money for individually wrapped, unnecessarily scented, floral pantyliners and applicator tampons.

Well, there's more bad news.

According to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who wrote about it in The Guardian, tampons aren't subject to nearly enough regulations and checks to ensure that they are "unequivocally safe" to be used as they are designed.

But what does this mean?

It means that, for some reason, despite the fact that they are inserted into just about the most delicate, intimate place on a woman's body except maybe her eyeballs, governing bodies haven't seen fit to put enough specific regulations in place to monitor their chemical content and track the longterm implications of frequent use.

As such, during testing of a range of different tampon brands, traces of the chemical dioxin, as well as carinogens and reproductive toxins were all discovered.

Dioxin - an environmental pollutant - is highly toxic and can cause reproductive problems, affect the immune system, mess with hormones and even cause cancer.

So, considering that millions of women will use around 16,800 tampons in their lifetime, that's quite a lot of potentially dangerous exposure.

What is in your tampon? [Associated Press]
What is in your tampon? [Associated Press]

Maloney speaks specifically about America, indicating that the FDA (Food & Drug Administration in the U.S.) has not assumed enough responsibility for the issue.

But the issue is a global one.

In 2013 a report entitled Chem Fatale was published, drawn up by a group called 'Women's Voices For The Earth', which categorically drew attention to the vast number of unsafe chemicals present in every women's product from tampons through to feminine deodourant.

In the 1980s, tampons had to be re-thought after a dramatic outbreak of "toxic shock" syndrome, suffered when a woman's body reacts to the presence of forign objects or chemicals.

But since then, not nearly enough work has been done to make sure that tampons in their current designs are completely safe for longterm use.

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Are we still too prudish about women's reproductive health to have this conversation? We sure hope not. So why, then, has not enough been done about it?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!