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BC Greens call for ban on “forever chemicals” in menstrual products

April 22, 2024
   4 min read
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For immediate release

April 22, 2024

VICTORIA, B.C. –  This Earth Day, as we confront the widespread issue of plastics, the BC Greens are calling on the BC NDP to take a leadership role in advancing both women’s health and environmental sustainability by banning menstrual products with intentionally added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals.” 

“As new studies and evidence come to light, our concern about the presence of PFAS in menstrual products continues to grow,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “These chemicals have been linked to serious health issues, from reproductive harms like decreased fertility and developmental problems to severe conditions such as kidney cancer and hormonal disruptions. It’s time the government stepped in to regulate these harmful products and protect the health and safety of the public.”

Menstrual products, ranging from tampons to period underwear, are essential for those who menstruate. Given that individuals may spend approximately 39 years in their menstrual cycle, the reliance on these products is significant.

“Just as we introduced legislation to protect firefighters by eliminating PFAS from their personal protective equipment, this measure extends that protection by reducing PFAS exposure in one of the most personal ways imaginable,” continued MLA Olsen. “It’s a significant step forward in our ongoing effort to minimize everyone’s contact with these dangerous chemicals.”

Although BC has taken progressive steps by making menstrual products free in various public settings, the BC Greens are pushing further to ensure these products are safe. The proposed ban would cover a wide range of products, from tampons to menstrual cups and underwear, all of which could contain PFAS either intentionally added or as contaminants.

“It’s worrying that we don’t know how much of these chemicals our bodies can absorb, especially since the amount of PFAS in some products is much higher than what’s safe in drinking water,” said MLA Olsen.

“Banning PFAS in menstrual products is a first step towards reducing everyone’s exposure to these harmful substances. The problem of PFAS contamination in everyday products and the environment is not going away anytime soon.”

Quick Facts:

  • In Canada, product importers and retailers are not required to disclose PFAS content to regulators or consumers.
  • Most tampons and pads are bleached, potentially creating highly toxic dioxins. Exposure to dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage, and hormonal interference.
  • People who menstruate use an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 disposable menstrual products during their fertile years, linking menstrual health to broader environmental issues, climate change, and sustainability.

Background

  • The BC Greens recently introduced the Firefighter Protection Act, 2024 which would mitigate the risks associated with PFAS exposure in firefighting operations.
  • The Canadian federal government is currently deciding whether to classify PFAS as toxic. PFAS are not only a concern in menstrual products but are pervasive in various consumer goods from cookware to apparel. This ban is a critical step towards a broader legislative framework aimed at reducing PFAS exposure across all consumer products.
  • Various jurisdictions, including states in the US and countries like Denmark and Australia, are taking steps to regulate or ban PFAS in consumer products, including menstrual products. This reflects growing recognition of the health risks associated with PFAS exposure.
  • A study in 2019 revealed PFAS in approximately 48% of pads and 22% of tampons analyzed between 2020 and 2022.
  • A consumer study conducted in 2022 by the environmental watchdog group Mamavation found that out of 23 tampon brands lab tested, 22% contained indications of PFAS.
  • Canadian research, supported by global studies, shows that not all menstrual products contain PFAS. Products labeled as eco-friendly or PFAS-free typically do not contain these chemicals, underscoring the importance of transparency and consumer awareness in product labeling.

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | jojo.beattie@leg.bc.ca

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