Toxic Dioxins Linked to Feminine Hygiene Products

by Dalton Moore CH,CC


We are constantly being warned to be on our guard, to avoid exposing ourselves to those things that are known to cause cancers.

Food additives such as nitrates, chemicals to make green vegetables stay crisp and green, chemicals to stop foods from spoiling, irradiated foods that destroy the life force of the plant, heat damaged or hydrogenated oils; it seems like most foods we buy in the supermarkets have the potential to cause us some irreparable, long term damage.

At one time we could not wait until the sun became strong enough to allow us to oil ourselves down and broil our skin until we had the "perfect tan". In the middle of winter, to give the appearance of having just returned from the tropics, we would sit under sunlamps. The worst fear we had was that we may develop the odd premature wrinkle. We now learn that people who develop skin cancers later on in life can look back to the sunburn they may have gotten as a child as the cause. Skin cells damaged by sunlight may take years to develop into skin cancers. The air we breath is loaded with potential carcinogens so small we would have to examine them under a microscope, while other carcinogens are virtually invisible. Who really knows how long the airborne dangers from the "Chernobyl" disaster will circle the globe.

Finally, the one thing without which we cannot survive, is water. Although water is critical to the life of all creatures on the face of the earth, humanity seems determined to pollute it to the point of no return. We seem to have this uncontrollable urge to self-destruct in the name of progress.

The Great Lakes, the world's largest reservoir of fresh water, contain over 200 identified toxic chemicals. Many municipalities including some of the larger cities, use the Great Lakes and connecting waterways as an open sewer. Governments on both sides of the border warn us not to eat fish from these waters, while millions of people draw their drinking water from this source. In an attempt to make the water "safe", we have filtered out the solids and added an assortment of chemicals designed to kill (or perhaps neutralize) any dangerous substances therein.

People who do not depend on the Great Lakes for their water are not much better off anywhere in Canada. For each area has its own source of pollutants, many being as toxic, if not more so, as the ones found in the Great Lakes. Countless lakes and rivers are being contaminated by Mercury from their mining operations. Lumber mills deposit solid and chemical wastes as a by-product of their operations. Pulp and paper mills use a whitening process involving the use of chlorine-bleaching which creates a highly carcinogenic by-product "DIOXIN". Dioxin, having no reclaim or dollar value is flushed into nearby streams and gradually finds its way into our supply of drinking water.


Fanners think they have the purest water until they see the results of the many chemicals they have been using for years to make their crops grow. The pesticides they spray on fields, and yes, even the natural, homemade animal fertilizers, eventually work their way down into their own water table and ultimately show up when they test their well water. Sanitary land fills, a dressed up word for a "garbage dump", arc cropping up like weeds. For the last 100 years, chemicals have been openly buried or dumped along lonely country roads in the middle of the night. Illegal dump sites were rented out by greedy and unscrupulous land owners eager to make a buck. These chemicals saturate the soil and eventually wind up in our water supply, be it the Great Lakes or some far off bubbling brook now devoid of all life. Wherever it pops up — we are the recipients of these cancer-causing toxins. Some will cause cancers within a few short years, which is evident in the fish we see laying with open sores along the beaches. Others may take decades to make an appearance. Women are in double jeopardy. Not only do women have to face the same cancer-causing agents as everyone else, they must contend with another source of danger that is related to a woman's menstruation which has been kept hidden for years. This source of concern was created by the people who insist on cloth and paper products that are whiter than white; on "Super Absorbent" materials that trap and hold body fluids. These products include feminine hygiene products that have been chlorine-bleached for the ultimate whiteness. Chlorine-bleaching creates a carcinogenic toxin "Dioxin". The majority of dioxin created during manufacturing is flushed into our water systems, thus creating a danger for everyone; the "residual" dioxin that has been detected in many tampons is the hidden, sleeping toxin that could come back to haunt a woman years after she no longer has a need for such "protection". Synthetic materials such as Rayon, used to absorb more fluids, must at some point in the manufacturing process be chlorine-bleached. A group of women in Britain, unhappy with the apathy shown by manufacturers and various levels of government over the dangers of dioxin in feminine hygiene products decided enough was enough, started their own company, Bodywise UK. Susie Hewson, the driving force behind Bodywise, introduced a line of "safe" feminine hygiene products that has rapidly become accepted as the "Hallmark" QUALITY, COMFORT AND SAFETY for sanitary pads, shields and tampons. These quality products are available in health food stores under the name Natracare. Natracare is not only completely free from chlorine-bleached material and dioxin, hut has set new standards for quality and comfort. Natracare tampons have shown to he the lowest level of fibre loss of tampons evaluated. Tampon fibre loss during use is the major cause of vaginal inflammation and ulceration. Natracare was designed by women for women and should he the first choice when long-term safety is concerned.


Toxic Shock Syndrome strikes with lightning swiftness. The symptoms resemble the flu. This includes sudden increase in temperature to 102`F or higher, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, stiff and aching muscles with dizziness or fainting. The skin develops a rash similar to sunburn and starts to flake and peel particularly on the hands and feet. TSS is nearly always associated with the use of a tampon. If a person is using a tampon and these symptoms manifest themselves, remove the tampon at once and contact a doctor for "immediate treatment." In the acute stage of TSS, there is a rapid drop in blood pressure, skin continues to shed, toxins ooze out of body openings, kidneys fail and respiration ceases.


The manufacturers and government agencies feel there is little to worry about. After all there have only been 12 tampon-related TSS deaths in Britain prior to 1980. The North American figures are somewhat higher - by 1981, 942 cases of TSS with 40 deaths had been confirmed in the United States and another 61 cases were confirmed in Canada with 3 deaths.


In June 1989, seventeen-year-old Alice Corman-Dunn of Sarnia Ontario was rushed to hospital severely ill with a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. She died the following day after suffering a cardiac arrest and lapsing into a coma. Doctors who testified at a coroner's inquest held in December 1990 said the cause of death was bacterial infection that led to an acute inflammation of her internal organs. Further, they stated that Alice Corman-Dunn died of menstrually related Toxic Shock Syndrome. What makes TSS so frightening is how quickly the disease can progress. Gladys Dunn, Alice's mother still can't get over how rapidly her daughter became ill. She came home from a college interview complaining of a high fever and a sick stomach, so we put her to bed. I went to look in on her the next morning - it was too late. She was almost gone"


Younger women and teenagers are more at risk from TSS because their bodies have not developed anti-bodies to this specific toxin; however of the millions of young women using tampons, only a relatively small number are affected. There are various points of view on this, hut one fact is certain - the toxin that causes TSS is created by a normally harmless bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus. Most women have this bacteria in small numbers. About 5-15% of women, on the other hand, have the S/Aureus in much more prolific numbers- these are the women most at risk.

The S/Aureus, as previously mentioned is normally quite harmless. The amount of toxin it produces is not sufficient to create a problem. Our body is a marvelous piece of machinery controlling the toxin levels produced by this bacteria with magnesium in the blood. This magnesium control factor was covered by a team of Infectious Disease Specialists at Harvard University, headed by Dr. Edward Kass. Dr. Kass found that in all cases of TSS, magnesium that should be keeping the S/Aureus from producing excess toxin was severely depleted. As a result the bacteria was able to produce toxin levels 20 TIMES HIGHER THAN NORMAL. Toxic Shock Syndrome was directly linked to the toxin created by this normally harmless bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus.


After extensive research into tampons, it was discovered that magnesium depletion lay in the rayon fibres used to increase absorbency. Judy Sadgrove, in her article The Protection Racket" said tampons cause dryness because they absorb 65% blood and 35% "other vaginal secretions." This can lead to peeling and ulceration, and fibres shed from tampons can become imbedded in vaginal walls, causing inflammation." During the first few days of flow, there is sufficient magnesium in the blood to control the bacteria in spite of the drawing from the super-absorbent rayon fibres. However, when the flow slows down, the tampons continue to draw magnesium from the blood and surrounding tissues with drastic repercussions.

It would appear that most of the manufacturers feel that the percentage of people adversely affected , does not warrant sacrificing absorbency by removing the rayon content from their tampons. Granted, the risk may appear to he minimal, I am sure it would he hard to convince the parents who have lost a teenage daughter to the sudden painful effects of TSS. Not all tampons contain rayon fibres. Natracare tampons sold in Health Food Stores, guarantee no rayon fibres. An added plus with Natracare is the proven, minimal fibre loss during the use of their 100(4.. cotton tampons. Low fibre loss reduces the risk of vaginal inflammation and ulceration. Natracare is understandably proud of their safety in producing tampons that are free of synthetic fibres without any significant drop in absorbency. Being totally natural, they are of course biodegradable — a real environmental plus.


It is not enough that women have to worry about the possibility of TSS due to rayon fibres and ulceration due to fibre loss. Now comes the hidden danger from dioxin created by CHLORINE- BLEACHING. Rayon, prior toils use in the manufacturing of women's sanitary products is routinely whitened by chlorine-bleaching. Some manufacturers maintain "they" do not use chlorine-bleaching, which may he true. However, the material could very well have been bleached "before" they got it, so technically they are telling the truth. Chlorine-bleaching creates DIOXIN, one of the most harmful cancer-causing chemicals known. Most dioxin is flushed into our water systems, making a toxic soup for all living things. Of pressing importance to women is the traces of dioxin that has been measured STILL REMAINING in the tampons.

According to a report by the Department of Environment in the UK, and echoed by the United States FDA (Food & Drug Administration), the amounts of dioxin found in tampons would he well below current acceptable levels. One US Senator with a Congressional Panel accused the FDA of "ignoring the possible dangers to women from tampons that may contain dioxin, a toxic substance believed to cause cancer." The Senator then slated emphatically "NO LEVEL OF DIOXIN IS ACCEPTABLE!" I believe the Senator was RIGHT ON! Following the meeting between the FDA and the Congressional Panel, a subcommittee uncovered a document in which an FDA scientist reported that the risk of dioxin in tampons "can he quite high" and that "the most effective risk management strategy would he to ensure that tampons... contain no dioxin." The subcommittee said that the FDA deleted the sentence referring to the dioxin hazards from a 1990 report on medical devices... "It appears that the most significant risks may occur in the tampon products." With all the scandals being reported around the world, this comes as no surprise. However with something that could have a direct effect on the long-range health of millions of women, one cannot help but wonder what their motivation could have been in deleting these crucial sentences that appear to he in direct contradiction to the statement made in the meeting between the Congressional Panel and the FDA.

On the average, a woman will use 10,000 tampons or pads during her lifetime.

A woman during her lifetime, will use approximately 10,000 tampons and/or pads. If we consider only the small, so-called "acceptable levels" of dioxin in just one tampon and multiply it by the number a woman will ultimately use can anyone, in clear conscience, really believe that "dioxin at any level is acceptable T" Susan Hewson, founder of Natracare UK, Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott, co-authors of Whitewash, the latest expose on toxic chemicals and synthetic materials, and millions of women who bleed as a part of a normal biological function, say NO!

Some women have changed hack to rewashable padding to absorb the bleeding. If this does not particularly appeal to you, there is an alternative. Susie Hewson of Natracare UK, has made a top-quality line of feminine hygiene products available that combine comfort, efficiency and safety, tampons that are made of 100% cotton grown under stringent pesticide controls with the lowest level of fibre loss reported in independent testing. The pads and shields are derived from pulp that has been OXYGEN-BLEACHED, using absolutely no harmful chemicals during the processing of raw materials or the manufacturing processes. Even the packages are made from recycled card. These top quality, comfortable, environment friendly and SAFE products are available in Canada in the most natural locations, in Health Food Stores, Environmental Stores and selected specially shops. You will find them displayed prominently in many stores. Look for the attractive pale yellow packages with the name "Natracare" in bright green letters. Bodywise UK and Susie Hewson have committed a percentage from all sales to environmentally active charitable groups such as The World Wildlife Fund.


"Women at Risk" deals with some general dangers to every one as a result of ignorance and greed, regardless of how governments and big business try to convince us to the contrary. We are told that lethal toxins are being developed to make our lives more comfortable, or safer, while at the same time dumping toxic chemicals into the earth or flushing them into our water supply, "all in the name of progress!" Women in particular have been put AT RISK to satisfy this greed. I can only hope this article will strip away some of the confusion and ignorance surrounding a woman's natural, normal, biological function, and hopefully help protect our future by making our teenagers and young women aware of the danger from dioxin poisoning.


The Newly released hook Whitewash, the must read for women of all ages.
by Liz Armstrong & Adrienne Scott

The Protection Racket
by Judy Sadgrove

The Globe & Mail Newspaper
June 12, 1992

The Magnesium Connection
by Claudia Wallis

About The Author

Dalton Moore is a chartered herbalist, candida consultant & lecturer. He has contributed articles to various publications including Alive and Seniors Magazine.

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