Oi Takes the Lead in Ensuring Women’s Health with Chemical-Free Tampons

Chemical leaching: we’re worried about it in our rivers and lakes. But what about in our vaginas? 

Chemical leaching into our rivers and waterways is a topical conversation for New Zealanders, but how many people have considered if tampons are leaching chemicals into women’s bodies?

A recent study* conducted by Insitugen and developed at the University of Otago tested a selection of tampons for chemical leaching, specifically, whether they release endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that have been linked to ovarian and breast cancer.

The pilot study, commissioned by Organic Initiative (Oi), found Oi tampons were at no risk of leaching EDCs, and they contained no xenoestrogenic activity.

Insitugen chief scientist and University of Otago Professor of Physiology Alison Heather says plastics can contain xenoestrogens, a substance that can mimic estrogen inside the body.

“Elevated xenoestrogen exposure can increase risks of many endocrine-related diseases, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, breast and ovarian cancers that are hormone-dependent,” says Heather.

The fact that Oi passed with flying colours was to be expected of the pioneering Kiwi brand, which is committed to providing women with safe, organic and eco-friendly menstrual products free of plastics. Oi’s range of tampons, pads and liners are certified organic cotton.

Oi is encouraging consumers to read period product labels to check what they are made of and to choose organic cotton. 

Certified organic cotton tampons, and pads like Oi’s, are at no risk of leaching chemicals because they don’t contain perfumes, chlorine bleaching, pesticides and irritants. Oi period products are made with only natural ingredients – you won’t find synthetics or plastics in any Oi disposable products.

Clare Morgan, CEO of Organic Initiative, says Oi believes that transparency is essential to empower consumers with information about their products, especially as tampons are classified as medical devices used in a highly absorbent part of a woman’s body.

“Organic cotton products are better for the environment because they are biodegradable, unlike products that contain plastic. Less water is also used to produce organic cotton, and because of Oi’s certification process, we can batch trace to where the organic cotton is grown. The certification demands the cotton is organically grown and once milled, that ethical processes are used in the production cycle of the tampon.

“Organic cotton period products are a wise choice for your body. Under the right conditions, they have the additional benefit of biodegrading in five years as opposed to products made with synthetic fibres that are likely to still be around in 500 to 800 years.”

She says reusable organic cotton underwear and reusable menstrual cups are an excellent alternative to single-use products.

“Our reusable bikini briefs are made from organic cotton.  When they’ve reached the end of their life, the waist and leg bands can be cut off and disposed of, while the remaining fabric can be buried in your garden under the roses. The organic cotton will biodegrade naturally, completing the product’s lifecycle while you enjoy blooming roses.”

*Assessment of Endocrine Disrupting Activity of Commercially Available Sanitary Products – A Pilot Study (2023). D. Schack, Dr A. Campbell, E. Sutherland and Dr A. Heather. The study has not yet been peer reviewed, and Oi is continuing its research.

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