Sanitary pads are the most commonly used product in India by women who have access to menstrual hygiene products. A new study has found that cancer-causing contaminants are found in widely-available sanitary pads sold in India. This is an alarming discovery, especially considering that almost three in every four teenage women in India use sanitary napkins.
The study was conducted by an NGO named Toxic Links, which revealed that the most commonly sold sanitary pads include toxic chemicals like carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, and allergens, which can be extremely harmful to health.
Conducted by Toxic Links, the study was conducted on ten sanitary pad brands (organic and inorganic) which are most commonly available across India, with traces of phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in all of the samples. Both contaminants have the ability to form cancerous cells.
Toxics Link found that their concentrations were up to three times higher than the European regulation standard in some of the pads it analysed.
Since the sanitary pad is in contact with the vagina of the woman at all times during menstruation, the female body has the potential to absorb these chemicals. As quoted by India Today, Toxic Links NGO said, “As a mucous membrane, the vagina can secrete and absorb chemicals at a higher rate than the skin.”
Almost three out of four teenage girls in India rely on sanitary pads during their periods. A report by the National Family Health Survey revealed that around 64 percent of women aged 15 to 24 in India use sanitary pads, which makes this an alarming study.
In 2019, awarded social worker Rita Gehtori, sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard, requesting sanitary pad manufacturing companies to introduce clothes containing such pads instead of plastic but due to lack of any major study, it was sidelined despite Himachal Pradesh Champawat’s chief medical superintendent Manjit Singh seconding Gehtori’s concerns.