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Tampax ‘Pure Cotton’ tampons contain dangerous ‘forever chemicals’: Lawsuit


Images of Tampax “Pure Cotton” boxes (via court filing).

An “organic tampon” advertised as having a “100% organic cotton core” from the top worldwide seller of women’s hygiene products contains dangerous chemicals, according to a new lawsuit.

California residents Brittany Bounthon, Vivianna Rivera, and Gina Allen have sued Proctor & Gamble (P&G), the parent company of Tampax, which in 2019 debuted its “Pure Cotton” tampon. P&G marketed the Pure Cotton tampon as a “safe, natural choice for feminine hygiene” with “simple ingredients” that “users can feel good about” and “trust,” according to the complaint.

On the front of the Pure Cotton tampon box itself was the claim that it was made of a “100% ORGANIC COTTON CORE,” a move by P&G that “knowingly leads consumers to believe that the Tampon Products are a healthy product for absorbing menstrual fluid” and that they don’t contain any harmful chemicals, the complaint says.

However, according to the lawsuit, independent testing showed that the tampons contained potentially dangerous chemicals.

“[D]espite P&G’s consistent and pervasive marketing of the Products as Pure and Organic, Plaintiffs’ independent testing has shown that the Tampon Products contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), a category of human-made chemicals with a toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative nature which are associated with numerous health concerns,” the complaint says.

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The lawsuit explains that PFAS “are a category of highly persistent and potentially harmful man made chemicals” that are “not naturally occurring.” There are thousands of PFAS in existence and they can be absorbed through the skin.

Some of the “negative health effects” associated with PFAS include “decreased male and female fertility, negative developmental effects or delays in children, increased risk of cancers, liver damage, and thyroid disease, adverse impacts on the immune system, interference with hormones and increased cholesterol levels,” the lawsuit says.

“There is no treatment to remove PFAS from the body,” the lawsuit says, noting that PFAS are sometimes called “forever chemicals.”

“The exposure to toxic substances such as PFAS through period care products is particularly serious due to the fact that studies have shown that the vaginal ecosystem is more sensitive and absorbent than typical skin,” the lawsuit notes.

The lawsuit says that that there is currently “significant public health concern” about chemicals used in feminine healthcare products — and implies that P&G preyed on these concerns in its marketing for the Pure Cotton tampons.

“P&G is well aware of consumers’ desire to avoid potentially harmful chemicals, which is exactly why it has engaged in an aggressive, uniform marketing campaign intended to convince consumers that the Products are a ‘pure’ and natural alternative to traditional menstrual products that are free from potentially harmful ingredients like PFAS,” the complaint says.

“Reasonable consumers” would believe, therefore, that the Pure Cotton tampons “do not contain artificial, synthetic or man-made chemicals that could adversely impact their health,” the lawsuit alleges.

“[T]here can be no doubt that the Pure and Organic Representations are intentionally designed to convince reasonable consumers that the Products are, in fact, ‘pure’ and otherwise free from potentially harmful ingredients,” the complaint also says. “The Pure and Organic Representations are central to P&G’s marketing and sale of the Products and are strategically employed to convince health-conscious consumers that the Products are a pure and natural choice.”

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs would not have bought the Pure Cotton tampons had they known that P&G “materially misrepresented […] and/or omitted material information” about the products

The complaint alleges violation of consumer protection law, false advertising, and unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs are seeking an undetermined amount of compensatory and other damages and an injunction barring P&G from engaging in the “wrongful and unlawful” conduct identified in the complaint.

P&G did not reply to Law&Crime’s request for comment in time for publication of this piece.

The lawsuit has been filed in federal court in California. Read the complaint here.

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