Dem proposes studying health effects of menstrual products

A House Democrat is pushing legislation that would require federal research into whether menstrual hygiene products carry health risks for women.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (N.Y) bill, the Robin Danielson Act of 2014, would require the National Institutes of Health to do research on whether certain menstrual hygiene products made with dioxins, synthetic fibers and other chemicals such as chlorine and fragrances could be harmful.

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Maloney said the bill “would invest in new research to help women better understand the risks associated with hygiene products so that they can make informed decisions about their health."

The legislation would also require the Food and Drug administration to monitor the dioxin levels in more women’s hygiene products.

“American women spend over $2 billion per year on menstrual hygiene products,” Maloney said. “While the Food and Drug Administration requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, this information is not readily available to the public. We also need more information on the presence of chemical contaminants in other menstrual hygiene products.”

The bill is named after a woman who died in 1998 of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare bacterial disease that happens mostly in women who are menstruating and has been linked to tampons, according to Maloney’s office.

Proponents of the legislation are concerned there is a lack of research into whether the products could be linked to breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.

"Internally worn products, such as tampons and cups, are worn in the most absorbent part of the body, off and on for literally decades, yet, there is a paucity of independent research that addresses the potential risks associated with these and other menstrual products," said Chris Bobel, president-elect of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, which supports the bill.

Maloney has unsuccessfully pushed the bill five other times, first introducing it in 1997.

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