Toxic shock syndrome didn’t go away when they started putting warning labels on tampon boxes. That’s the point that model Lauren Wasser is trying to make with a lawsuit against Kotex and a probable Capitol Hill speaking engagement this fall, as Congress considers the Robin Danielson Act, which would regulate toxic chemicals in feminine hygiene products. In 1998, Danielson lost her life to toxic shock syndrome. In 2012, Wasser lost her leg.
The Robin Danielson Act would “establish a program of research regarding the risks posed by the presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrances, and other components of feminine hygiene products.” Representative Carolyn Maloney has introduced the bill repeatedly without success, most recently last April.
Women’s Voices for the Earth has long called for better oversight of feminine hygiene products, especially given toxic pesticide residues and evidence of dioxin–called a “highly toxic” and “persistent environmental pollutant” by the World Health Organization. The average woman will use nearly 17,000 tampons and pads over the course of her lifetime.
Wasser isn’t just suing the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which manufacturers and distributes the Kotex Natural Balance tampons that made her sick, she’s also suing Kroger and Ralph’s, where she bought them.
“Part of our job is to show the jury that it’s not about the warning on the box—it’s about the fact that they’ve had materials available for 20 years that could make [tampons] safer, and they’ve chosen not to use them,” her attorney, Hunter J. Shkolnik told a Vice reporter. “They call these tampons ‘natural,’ when in fact it’s the man-made materials that make them dangerous. Their marketing makes young women think, ‘Oh, these are the natural cotton ones,’ but they’re not natural [and] they’re not cotton.”
Want to do something about it?
1. Choose USDA Certified Organic tampons and pads or consider a menstrual cup. (Read about why I love my menstrual cup here.)