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. These microplastics can also be found in synthetic fabrics such as polyester, as well as in packaging materials.
When these microplastics are washed down the drain, they can end up in our waterways and oceans, where they can harm marine life and potentially end up in our food chain. Additionally, microplastics can also be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, raising concerns about their potential impact on human health.
Microplastics in Sanitary Pads
Sanitary pads, also known as menstrual pads, typically contain plastic. The plastic used in sanitary pads can include polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyacrylate, which are used to make the pads absorbent and waterproof. The plastic in sanitary pads can take hundreds of years to degrade, and they are a significant contributor to plastic pollution. The majority of sanitary pads are not biodegradable, and they can be found in the environment, specifically in landfills and oceans.
To reduce the use of plastic in sanitary products, people can consider using alternatives such as:
Reusable cloth pads
Biodegradable and compostable pads
Organic cotton pads
It's also important to note that a lot of research is being done to make sanitary products eco-friendly and biodegradable with new technology.
In addition to reducing plastic use, these alternatives also offer other benefits such as cost savings over time, and reducing waste associated with disposable products. People can also consider making their own menstrual pads if they are comfortable with it.
It's worth noting that not all individuals are able to use menstrual cups or reusable cloth pads due to health conditions, personal preferences, or other reasons. It's essential for everyone to have access to the menstrual products that work best for them and for companies to provide more eco-friendly options for all.
Microplastics are commonly found in personal care products, including some sanitary pads. It's important to note that not all sanitary pads contain microplastics and most that do contain them may have them in varying amounts.
While the potential impacts of microplastics on human health and the reproductive system are not fully understood, some studies suggest that microplastics could potentially release harmful chemicals, including plasticizers and other additives, into the body and are absorbed by the skin. Chemicals such as phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and bisphenol S (BPS) have been found in plastic products, including sanitary pads. There is also a concern that the use of plastic in sanitary pads can increase the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions, especially for individuals with sensitive skin, and the possibility of microplastics in sanitary pads leaching into the vagina and affecting the reproductive system. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, which can potentially interfere with hormones in the body and lead to a range of health problems.
However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health impacts of microplastics and to determine if they pose a risk to reproductive health. In the meantime, individuals can take steps to reduce their exposure to microplastics by choosing personal care products that are free of plastic and microplastics, and by properly disposing of waste to help reduce plastic pollution.
It's important to note that research on the health risks of plastic in sanitary pads is limited, and more studies are needed to fully understand the potential effects. It's always recommended to consult a doctor or a healthcare professional if you have any concerns. In general, using products made of natural materials that are biodegradable and free of chemicals is a safer option.
Reducing microplastics in daily life
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 labeled as biodegradable or use natural exfoliants such as ground nut shells, salt, and sugar.
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.