More than seven million
Australian women will be empowered to avoid potentially life-threatening illness due to the introduction of a new Standard for sanitary items.
Each year around 300 million tampons
are sold in Australia, and the average woman uses up to 12,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime
The newly revised Standard (AS 2869:2022, Tampons - Menstrual) specifies manufacturers should provide specific information about the connection between prolonged use and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and its risk factors, precautions, when to seek medical attention and where to go for further information.
TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death
, and the revised Standard has been prompted by the latest healthcare practice associated with the disease.
“Anyone using these products should have confidence that they have been manufactured and labelled safely,” General Manager of Operations for Standards Australia, Kareen Riley-Takos, said.
“This newly revised standard provides best practice industry guidance to manufacturers to ensure consumer safety and awareness, and manufacturers should endeavour to incorporate this standard into the development of their products.
“This standard could positively impact the lives of many Australians, who have the right to know that it was developed with their safety as a top priority”.
Lismore mother, law student and women’s health advocate Christine Stephens, knows the pain these products can cause, having suffered an allergic reaction to the adhesives in sanitary items.
“My doctor advised that it is a common occurrence for women and girls to experience reactions due to the potentially harmful ingredients that are often found in these products,” Christine Stephens said.
“Only a small number of manufacturers are disclosing ingredients and when I spoke with consumers, friends and family, there was a real anger - and a bit of resentment - towards the manufacturers for effectively hiding the real information.
“If they have nothing to hide, why not disclose it?”
Christine has started the #notinmyknickers
campaign, calling for legislative change that requires manufacturers to list ingredients on disposable period products.
“Women have the right to know, particularly if those ingredients have the potential to cause a serious, or even life-threatening reaction,” Ms Stephens said.
“Some countries have this requirement in legislation. For example, the USA was the first country to recognise this with its Menstrual Products Right to Know Act
2019. I think it’s only fair that Australian women have similar protections.”
“This newly revised Australian standard helps educate and inform tampons users on their safety and wellbeing, meaning millions of people can now make more informed decisions.”
The Australian Standard (AS 2869:2022) that relates to Tampons contains six sections including materials, design requirements, performance requirements, hygiene requirements, packaging and marking. It states that supply packs, as received by the consumer, shall be permanently and legibly marked with a list of ‘constituents’, or materials, of the body of the tampon.
The revision was developed with technical committee CS-065 with wide input not only from industry but also Women’s Health advocates, microbiologists and government health departments.