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Microplastics in Sanitary Pads

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are smaller than 5mm in size. They can be found in a variety of consumer products, including personal care items such as sanitary pads, toothpaste, exfoliating scrubs and facial cleansers, as well as household cleaning products. They can also be found in synthetic clothing fabrics and in packaging materials.

Microplastics can be easily inhaled or absorbed through the skin, raising concerns about their potential impact on human health. When these microplastics are washed down the drain, they end up in our soil, waterways and oceans, where they can harm marine life and potentially end up in our food chain.

Microplastics in Sanitary Pads 

Typical sanitary pads contain plastic and lots of it. The plastic used in sanitary pads is used to make the pads absorbent and waterproof. Most pads are up to 90% plastic and chemicals, this includes chemicals to suppress odour, plastics to make it leak-free, chemicals to make it softer, plastic for the packaging and so on. The plastic in sanitary pads is very close to our most sensitive vaginal area, with direct access to fragile reproductive system. Needless to say, it has unhealthy consequences for our reproductive health. 


How to Avoid Microplastic.


Health risks of plastics in sanitary pads

Microplastics are commonly found in personal care products, including most sanitary pads. Some studies indicate that microplastics may release hazardous compounds into the body through skin absorption, such as plasticizers and other additives, even if the precise effects on human health and the reproductive system are yet unknown. Bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol S (BPS), and phthalates are among the chemicals that can be found in common items, such as sanitary pads. 

The use of plastic in sanitary pads may increase the risk of allergic responses or skin irritation, particularly in people with sensitive skin. There's also a chance that the microplastics in the pads will seep into the vagina and have an impact on reproductive health. These substances are recognized as endocrine disruptors, which may cause a variety of health issues by interfering with the body's hormone functions.

To completely comprehend the possible health effects of microplastics and ascertain whether they could be harmful to reproductive health, more research is necessary. While waiting for effective waste disposal to help minimize plastic seepage into our daily lives, women can make efforts to limit their exposure to microplastics by selecting personal care items free of plastic and microplastics. In principle, it is safer to choose natural, chemical-free products composed of biodegradable components.

If not plastic-laden sanitary pads, then what??

To reduce the use of plastic in sanitary products, people can consider using alternatives such as:

It's also important to note that a lot of research is being done to make sanitary products eco-friendly and biodegradable. In addition to reducing plastic use, these alternatives also offer other benefits such as cost savings and healthier lives.

Tips to reduce microplastics in daily life.

Plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade and is a significant contributor to plastic pollution, specifically in landfills and oceans. To reduce exposure to microplastics, people can take the following steps:

  • Be mindful of the ingredients in personal care and household products and avoid those that contain microplastics such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

  • Use products that are labelled as biodegradable.

  • Avoid products that are packaged in plastic and opt for products that are packaged in paper or glass instead.

  • Use a water filtration system that can remove microplastics.

  • Educate oneself about microplastics and how to reduce exposure and share this information with others.

  • Support policies and initiatives that aim to reduce microplastics in consumer products and packaging.

It's important to note that there is ongoing research into the potential health effects of microplastics and more studies are needed to fully understand the risks they may pose.

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