Pulling the Plug on Tampon Scares

By Josh Bloom — Oct 27, 2015
A young woman was photographed wearing a shipping carton decorated to look like a Tampax package, with the slogan "Detox the Box!" prominently featured. She and other "activists" were protesting "toxic tampons." They have better things to worry about -- like their own sanity.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.24.23 AMDespite a spectacularly creative, although ultimately unsuccessful, effort, Stephanie Phillips came up just short in this year's "Look Like an Idiot For Halloween Costume Contest." However, she did so well that it would be just plain wrong not to give her honorable mention.

In what is unlikely to be a successful profile photo on Match.com, Ms. Phillips was photographed wearing a shipping carton that was decorated to look like a Tampax box, with the slogan "Detox the Box!" prominently featured.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

In a normal year, this wins by a mile. But, who could have predicted that the competition would be so fierce this year? So much so, in fact, that the winner didn't even need a costume!

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Ms. Phillips, a vegan chef, and anti-chemical activist, was joined by fellow protesters from the Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE) group in a march outside of the corporate headquarters of Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati earlier this month.

The activist group sure doesn't like chemicals, as is evidenced by some of the "bad actors" that they list on their website. These include:

  • Fragrances (toxic, yet the essence of aromatherapy. Someone has to be wrong here)
  • Air fresheners (toxic)
  • Detergents and other cleaning products (toxic)
  • Disinfectant sprays (toxic)
  • Fabric softeners (toxic)
  • Furniture polish (toxic)
  • Shampoos (toxic)
  • Windex (contains limonene: allergenic. Unfortunate, since limonene is found in every citrus fruit)

There is much more. Much like their doppelganger, the Environmental Working Group, which was recently renamed the Environmental Washington Generals, they really hate chemicals even those supplied to us by Mother Nature. A small sampling of these include:

  • Limonene: citrus fruit
  • Linalool: coriander, mountain laurel, citrus fruits, and marijuana (!)
  • Citronellol: roses, geraniums, other flowers

And, should you really be in the mood to self-flagellate, WVE suggests that you can sign up for a "Green Momma Party," something that Dante obviously failed to include in his inferno.

I'll save you the trouble. No matter what you want to clean, use around your child, eat, drink, patch up a whole in the hull of a nuclear submarine, use vinegar. This is especially ironic, since one of the many cancer frauds is that acidity in the body causes cancer. And, vinegar is one of the most acidic substances that one will ever consume more so than any soda.

So, what's in tampons that makes them so deadly? The answer is "It doesn't matter." Why? The following list of dangerous chemicals that were detected in menstrual pads answers this perfectly:

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The "real" issue beyond these phony scares is always the same: dose. The above table shows the amounts of various chemicals that were measured in different pads. Note (red circle) the unit of measurement ppb (parts per billion) an amount so tiny that super-chemist, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, at McGill University in Montreal says on his Facebook page: "1 ppb is one toilet tissue in a roll stretching from Montreal to London."

The blue circle shows the power of modern analytical chemistry. 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene might have some risk associated with it if there was "any" there. But, for practical purposes, there isn't. The chemical warfare agent ricin one of the most toxic substances on earth is lethal at 22 ppb. And these guys are worried about the presence a chemical that is millions of times less toxic than ricin, and is also found in a concentration that is 40-times LESS than the lethal dose of ricin??

The green circle for acetone seems to indicate "a lot," but acetone is not only a very poor toxin, but is also a product of fat metabolism in your body, so you are regularly exposed to it anyhow. Isopropyl alcohol (orange circle) is another name for rubbing alcohol, which you can just about swim in before it hurts you. But, 39 ppb is a concern? Please.

So, the answer to the question "What chemicals have been found in tampons?" is "It doesn't make one bit of difference."

The foundation of the "chemical scare industry" is the omission of dose (exposure) in the discussion, as well as the failure to acknowledge vastly improved analytical technology, which can now measure irrelevant amounts of chemicals that have been there all along.

Stephanie Phillips may have gotten her photo in the Times, but this is only because she almost won the contest not because there is any sane message in anything that she or her group is trying so hard to spread.

This is more of the "same old." Smoke, mirrors, and an really expensive quadrupole mass spectrophotometer. This bad boy will find anything. Maybe even Jimmy Hoffa. Available from Fisher Scientific starting at $303,000.

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Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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