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Chemicals in tampons

Popular tampon brands have been detected to have evidence of PFAS found in them. But what are PFAS and what do you need to know about them? WUKA experts discuss. 

Chemicals in Tampons

PFAS (Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) have been in the news recently, and you may have seen stories linking them to tampons. But what are PFAS and why are they being used in some brands of tampons?

What are PFAS?

According to the UK’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), PFAS are a family of chemicals that are made up of around 5,000 different substances. Also referred to as ‘forever chemicals’, PFAS are notoriously difficult to degrade and tend to stick around for a very long time, particularly in water.

PFAS are used because of their persistent durability. They enable manufacturers to make long-lasting products such as non-stick pans; the forever chemicals help to repel water and grease, helping them to work better and last longer.

PFAS are also used in some skin creams and cosmetics, dishwasher rinse aid, food packagings, outdoor clothing and shoes… and more. In fact, lots of manufacturers use PFAS because they make their products so very resistant to biodegradation. Meaning, their products stick around for a very long time. 

What PFAS have been found in tampons?

One member of the PFAS ‘family’ is fluorine, a chemical that has recently been found in some brands of tampons. 

According to this article by Environmental Health News, 23 tampon brands have been tested, and of those 23, five tested positive for fluorine. Previous studies also having found phthalates and BPA present in tampons.

Why are PFAS in tampons?

PFAS in tampons

Another report by the Environmental Health News states:

“It’s not clear how fluorine ends up in sanitary products. However, it’s possibly from trying to achieve moisture-wicking fabric, as PFAS are stain- and water-resistant. Or the contamination could be unintended via lubricants used in production, or manufacturers omitting data on — or simply not knowing — the raw materials.”

Why is PFAS in tampons bad?

A 2020 study  looked into the effects that PFAS can have on ovarian function, and concluded that more research is needed to determine the impact they could have.

But the study did report on the possibility of exposure to PFAS having a "lasting effects on reproductive and non-reproductive health, including disruption of fertility, reproductive lifespan and regulation of skeletal, cardiovascular and brain functions.”

So what does this mean?

PFAS are also known to be ‘endocrine disruptors’, meaning that they can interfere with the body’s hormones, leading to hormonal imbalances, which can have a further negative impact conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, early menopause and uterine fibroids. 

This article from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences explains more, concluding that “even low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be unsafe”. 

The bottom line? Knowing and understanding the chemicals that are used in the products you buy is essential. 

Do WUKA period pants contain harmful chemicals?

WUKA period pants  do NOT contain any added chemicals that could be harmful to you. We absolutely refuse to add any silver treatments (used by some manufactures to make a product antibacterial) and we test regularly for additional chemicals- including PFAS. 

What are WUKA period pants made from?

Our period pants are made from GOTS organic cotton, BCI Cotton, Tencel and recycled nylon. 

Organic cotton, grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, meets high standards when it comes to both environmental and social impact. And because there are no chemicals used, it’s kind to your skin too. 

WUKA Ultimate Bikini Brief Period Pants are made from GOTS organic cotton (Global Organic Textile Standard).

BCI Cotton is grown using practises that promote sustainability and ethical textile production. This makes our Stretch™ Cotton period pants kind to the planet, whilst being kind to your skin at the same time. 

Tencel is an eco-friendly fabric sourced from the pulp of carefully managed beech trees. No chemicals are released into the environment during the production of Tencel and the fibres are both compostable and biodegradable. It also makes our period pants super soft and flexible. 

WUKA Ultimate Midi Brief, Ultimate Boxer Shorts, Bralette, Everyday Midi Brief and Bikini, and Ultimate High Waist are made from Tencel.

Recycled nylon takes ocean waste and transforms it. With the world currently producing more plastic that we’re recycling, this means that we can not only reduce waste, but we can also cut down on energy needed to manufacture our period pants too. 

Our Perform range is made from recycled nylon.

Do WUKA period pants contain PFAS?

WUKA period pants do NOT contain PFAS. We’ve always been committed, since day one, to never using harmful chemicals in the production of our products. 

All of the materials that we use are planet friendly, animal friendly and contain no added chemicals whatsoever. 

Plus, all items in each WUKA collection is independently tested by Highstreet Textile Testing Services Ltd (HTTS) who guarantee there is zero trace of PFA's in our products.

WUKA period pants are safe to use. They’re breathable, moisture-wicking and comfortable. They’re leak-proof too, so they’re the only period product you need for your menstrual cycle.

If you have any questions at all about any of our products or the materials we use, please reach out to us via email, (hello@wuka.co.uk) or socials- Facebook or Instagram.

Related posts:

WUKA vs Tampons and Pads

Why GTOS cotton is Better 

What are Period Pants?

How Sustainable are WUKA Period Pants?

Are People Happy With Their Period Products?

Should You Sleep With a Tampon in?

Toxic Shock Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes


What are PFAS examples?

PFAS are a group of persistent synthetic chemicals used in manufacturing. There are almost 5,000 different types, but the most commonly studied is PFOA, a chemical that was used in non-stick pans for a long time. Fluorine is another example, recently found in tampons. 

How is PFAS harmful to humans?

More research is needed, but scientists do know that PFAS can have a negative impact on human health, with links being found to disease and fertility issues.  

Do all tampons have chemicals?

Not all tampons contain chemicals. Organic tampons are most likely to be chemical-free, but there have been some cases of fluorine detection even in organic brands.

Why do tampons contain chemicals?

Chemicals are used in the production and manufacturing of tampons. This includes applicators too. Chemicals are also sometimes used to fragrance tampons.

What chemicals are in organic tampons?

Organic tampons should not contain PFAS. They are made with organic cotton, which is grown without synthetic chemicals, and some are bleached with peroxide rather than chlorine. Peroxide is a chemical compound- look for brands that do not contain this, or that state they are ‘unbleached’. Its also worth noting that some organic tampons have been found to contain fluorine, which is a PFAS