GOTS Certified Natracare: “Study of Metals in Tampons is a Catalyst for Industry Change”

Natracare, the leading brand in sustainable period care, believes this new study will educate consumers and encourage better worldwide standards — both of which the brand has pursued since its outset.

A study led by University of California Berkeley researchers, and published in the August 2024 issue of Environment International, evaluated levels of metals in tampons. The study looked at 16 metals in 30 tampons from 14 brands and 18 product lines sold across the US and Europe.1

The study found measurable concentrations of all 16 metals assessed, including toxic metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium. In response to this alarming report, and with concern for full transparency and to help to allay consumer concerns UK-based Natracare, is making their independent testing publicly available.2

“As a precautionary principle and as part of Natracare’s annual organic certification audit, tests for detecting heavy metals are commissioned by our UK certification body, The Soil Association, and tested by a third-party accredited laboratory,” said Natracare Founder Susie Hewson. “These test results of our GOTS certified organic cotton tampons show no detectable traces of heavy metals or other chemicals of concern and are publicly available to offer peace of mind and full transparency.

The new study published in Environmental International highlights the presence of toxic metals in many tampons, raising concerns about potential health risks — something Natracare has given voice to for decades. “We believe people who bleed deserve safe, natural options for their periods. Thirty years ago, we were concerned by what certain companies put in period products, and for this reason actively supported Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997 (now called the Robin Danielson Menstrual Product and Intimate Care Product Safety Act). This outrage led to the founding of Natracare, and thirty three years of campaigning for safer period care.”

“The findings of this study are tremendously valuable because they give people the information they need to choose what is best for their bodies and to hold more companies accountable to doing the same, both of which we have advocated for since our inception,” said Hewson.

As a campaigning brand for over 30 years, Natracare’s founding philosophy has always been to make certified organic 100% cotton tampons to reduce unnecessary exposure to chemicals of concern. Natracare has earned several certifications for exceptional environmental and ethical quality. In fact, Natracare tampons are certified to the Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS)3 — the gold standard for organic tampons — adding an extra precaution to guarantee the safety and quality of Natracare tampons. The GOTS certification underscores Natracare’s commitment to health and sustainability.

GOTS has stringent regulations for testing and controlling residuals. The standard clearly defines “explicitly banned or prohibited for environmental and/or toxicological reasons in all processing stages of GOTS Goods,” and further states that “inputs shall be ‘heavy metal free.’ Impurities shall not exceed the limit values as defined.4

“Just as we fought for regulatory authorities to require tampon manufacturers to test for Dioxin residuals, we continue to strongly support the need for regulations that require manufacturers to test for chemicals of concern and heavy metal residuals.”

We share consumers’ concerns for the discovery of heavy metals found in some brands of tampons, and we fully support regulatory intervention of some determination to measure and establish levels of chemicals of concern and heavy metals detected in tampons. Such a framework exists for cosmetics; why not tampons?

Consumers can trust that Natracare tampons meet rigorous environmental and health standards. Natracare encourages consumers to stay informed and make choices that prioritize their health and the environment. The brand remains committed to continuous improvement and transparency. Project #BeKind is Natracare’s foundational company mission to do our part to help our environment. Take the #BeKind pledge and join the movement. Green Your Life. PERIOD.

Helen Lynn, the Environmenstrual5 Campaign Manager at the Women’s Environmental Network has responded with the following, “Dozens of metals including lead, arsenic and cadmium were found in tampon samples from brands purchased in the UK, US and the EU. The researchers tested both organic and non-organic samples but do not list the brands chosen.

We are exposed to background levels of metals through our diet and pollution but the researchers suggested additives to tampons like antimicrobials and or anti-odour chemicals, whiteners or lubricants could be the source. Zinc and Calcium were found in high concentrations, and these can be used for odour control, lubrication, and as antimicrobial agents. But none of the tampons studied listed Zinc as an additive, even those purchased in New York State where there is a requirement, by law, to list all ingredients.”

References

  1. Environment International, 2024 – Tampons as a source of exposure to metal(loid)s
  2. Eurofins BLC, 2023 – AA234-1181-1 Tech Report for presence of heavy metals in Natracare tampons, [PDF]
  3. Natracare – Natracare’s organic certification
  4. GOTS, 2023 – GOTS Standard and Manual Version 7.1
  5. Wen – Why we need a menstrual health, dignity and sustainability act

Notes to editors

Natracare has been championing organic, plastic-free and toxin-free period products since 1989. Natracare’s mission is to empower consumers while safeguarding their health and the planet. As a campaigning brand for 33 years, Natracare’s founding philosophy has always been to make certified organic 100% cotton tampons to reduce unnecessary exposure to chemicals of concern.

Women’s Environment Network Wen is a UK-based charity working to support women and their communities to take action for a healthier planet. They have national campaigns and also work at community level in London to support women and grass-roots movements to take environmental action. They are responsible for the Environmenstrual campaign to raise awareness of hidden plastic and toxic chemicals in conventional menstrual products and promoting more environmentally responsible alternatives.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed by leading standard setters in the organic industry to define globally recognised requirements for organic textiles. They audit all aspects of organic: from the harvesting of the raw materials, environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing to labelling, textiles certified to GOTS provide a validated assurance to the consumer.

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