Robin Danielson died in 1998 at the age of 44 after contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from the use of a conventional brand of tampons. Today many women feel like TSS is something that they no longer need to worry about and believe that tampons are now much improved. While it’s true that the particular product Robin used was eventually pulled from the market, there are still some unanswered questions about the general safety of tampons.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has created legislation named after Robin Danielson – the Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act – that demands the National Institutes of Health undertake independent testing of all feminine hygiene products to ascertain the health impact of using tampons and sanitary pads. The act also asks that the FDA make publicly known the contents of all of these products.
As a company who cares about your health, is transparent about the ingredients used to produce our Maxim brand of organic and natural chlorine free 100% cotton tampons and pads, and hears consistent praise from women who’ve found comfort in the hypoallergenic benefits our products have to offer, Maxim Hygiene Products fully supports the Robin Danielson Act.
Maxim’s detailed educational videos speak directly to our customers’ concerns, show ways to detect the difference between cotton and other “cotton-like” materials and support informed decision-making. In the spirit of our mission to educate women about healthier menstrual care options, here are 5 reasons why the Robin Danielson Act is of such importance and needs the support of all women, especially during the upcoming National Women’s Health Week.
Reason #1: Women are still dying of TSS and we don’t know why. In 2002 eight women died in California alone from this disease. In 2010, 20 year old Amy Rae Elifritz was killed by her tampon. Maxim teamed up with Amy’s mother Lisa to support the launch of her educational non-profit You ARE Loved, which raises awareness for TSS. We think we should all be able to agree that no one should be dying because of their chosen femcare product in the 21st century. Yet, the Center for Disease Control no longer even monitors the prevalence of TSS, despite continued cases.
Reason #2: Women’s Voices for the Earth released the ‘Chem Fatale’ report in 2014 in which they outlined the potential hazards of conventional tampon ingredients such as dioxins, furans, pesticide residues, and fragrance chemicals and the potential link between these ingredients and cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption, as well as infection, irritation and allergic reaction. The investigators argued that research conducted by the femcare companies themselves does not take into account where these products are used – in a highly absorbent and permeable part of the body – or the cumulative amount of time they are used, when drawing conclusions about the health risks.
Reason #3: Carolyn Maloney has been trying to pass this legislation for almost two decades. She began her campaign the year before Robin Danielson died. She has brought it before Congress nine times in total, this year will see the tenth effort. Every time the act is prevented from going forward to a vote. It is currently in the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Part of the reason for this is the lack of attention from women’s health activists and from the media.
Reason #4: When compared to actions around a product like toothpaste the inaction of Congress on this act shows a blatant disregard for women’s health. Concern over the chemical triclosan in Colgate toothpaste in 2013 prompted the FDA to investigate risks and some states have already passes legislation to ban use of the chemical in any products. The concern over triclosan is specifically around its potential endocrine-disrupting properties. Conventional tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products also contain potentially endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Reason #5: The Robin Danielson Act would also require companies such as Maxim that are producing natural, organic, chemical-free femcare products to undergo independent testing. Women would be able to compare the ingredients list of a conventional tampon to the much shorter, more understandable list of ingredients in a Maxim tampon. Companies like Maxim would welcome the opportunity to be investigated as such and to have the opportunity to be transparent with their consumers about their products.
So, what can you do? Here are the 3 steps we suggest to take action.
- Call your Congressperson and tell them you need them to support this bill. Give them the reasons outlined above. A call and a direct email are much more effective than just a signature on a petition, although you should do that too! Don’t know who your Congressperson is? Click here where the fine ladies at WVE have a nifty Congressperson locator tool.
- Spread the word via social media with the hashtags #tampontruth and #menstruationmatters – tell your friends to do the above this way. Share this blog post!
- Switch to natural, organic, chemical-free products from companies that are open and honest about how their tampons and pads are made. Maxim has produced several informative videos detailing the ingredients we use and all of our packaging is clearly labeled with the ingredients as well.
While we push to get this legislation passed we hope to be here to support women in making informed choices about their health.