I still remain shocked at how many hidden chemicals are in the food we eat, the products we use and the water we drink. I used to think living in Vermont protected me from the rampant pollution found elsewhere, then right down the road they find PFOA in well water. I have well water- I thought stuff like this couldn’t happen to me. Wrong.

I’ve written about the chemicals found in body wash and not washing your bits and pieces with unpronounceables, but never stopped to think about the chemicals found in toilet paper.  Consider this quote from an article on myilifestyle.com:

It is well known that toilet paper is made from wood and the logic tells us that it should be brown. Why is it so white than? Unfortunately, paper industries use chlorine and chlorine dioxide to bleach it. Bleached paper is believed to be the most carcinogenic chemical known to science! These chemicals react with organic molecules in the wood and other fibers to create many toxic byproducts, including dioxin. The term dioxin is often used to include three acutely toxic chemical groups: true dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). All these are responsible for many health problems such as cancer, hormone imbalances, immune system impairments, reduced fertility and birth defects. Chlorinated toilet paper contains highest amount of furans out of all cosmetic tissues, and is one of the most toxic human-made chemicals. The scary thing is that dioxins accumulate in our body overtime because it cannot be excreted, and causes dangerous health situation. Studies have found correlations between high workplace exposure to dioxins and increased risk of cancer.

It gets worse as you read-

Bisphenol A (BPA) which concentration is proven to be very high in paper products, including recycled toilet paper.

Formaldehyde which is used ”to improve the wet-strength and other ‘important’ characteristics of paper and paper products”.

Talk about a wake up call. I don’t know about you, but I use toilet paper every day. I’ll be researching and improving the products brought into my home for sure. There’s nothing I can do except not use toilet paper outside my home (not really feasible) other than continue to educate others so we as a community can ask for better. It’s only our expectations that dictate that our toilet paper should be white.

Ladies, let’s take it up a notch- what chemicals are in your pads and tampons? According to this article on CNN.com:

(the FDA) found the sanitary napkins emitted chemicals, like styrene, chloroethane and chloroform. The World Health Organization classifies styrene as a carcinogen. And the EPA says short-term exposure to high concentrations of chloromethane can have neurological effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says high levels of exposure to chloroethane can result in lack of muscle coordination and unconsciousness.

More to the point:

Rayon is a synthetic made from sawdust and a byproduct of it is dioxin, which the EPA says is likely carcinogenic. The FDA says that trace amounts of dioxin are not of concern for human health and that rayon tampons don’t have higher incidences of TSS.
“Sure, one tampon is trace,” said Tierno, “but consider the menstrual lifetime of a woman. They use approximately 12,000 tampons in a lifetime. That means 12,000 exposures of dioxin … five, six, seven times a day. That’s a lot of dioxin absorbed directly through the vagina. It goes directly into the blood.”
Truthfully, I haven’t decided what to do here. There are other products out there like menstrual cups and period underpants (I hate the word panties, click here for a $10 discount) which have their pluses and minuses. This is another reason why I’m such an advocate for controlling what you can- we might not be able to control how many chemicals are in our tampons or toilet paper, but every article I read talks about the frequency of exposure. If I’m going to use 12,000 tampons in my life, I’m also going to wash my hair a minimum of 192 times a year, or at least 13,440 times if I do that for 70 years. I’ve now doubled my exposure to chemicals found in both my tampons and shampoo. If I can change my shampoo, I’ve instantly reduced my exposure without having to use wool or leaves to deal with my period (not my plan…).
Beautycounter works tirelessly to provide safer products with clear labeling that I can trust to reduce my toxic load. I can’t control everything, and it’s not going to be perfect, but I can support companies and use products that help me reduce my and my family’s exposure. It’s never going to be zero- we breathe too, but I can make a conscious choice and I urge you to do the same.