Periodically, concerns are raised about dioxin in feminine hygiene products -- especially tampons. To address this concern, FDA OWH funded Jeffrey C. Archer to examine dioxin content in seven brands of tampons.
Two lots of regular absorbency and two lots of the highest absorbency of each brand were purchased. All samples were analyzed via gas chromatography with high-resolution mass spectrometer. Most detected quantities were at or near detection limit values. Only one brand of Super-Plus had levels of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran that were considered statistically significant -- i.e., greater than the average blank at a 99% level. Several brands had levels of heptachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin significantly greater than the blank average.
The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has set a provisional tolerable monthly intake of 70 pg/kg body weight per month of total dioxin equivalence. Based on a risk assessment assuming total absorption of dioxin from the tampon, the dioxin content of the highest brand (roughly 0.225 pg/tampon), use of 24 tampons in a month and hypothesizing a 50 kg female; the theoretical exposure equals 5.4 pg/month or 0.108 pg/kg body weight in a month. This results in less than 0.2% of the tolerable monthly intake set by JECFA.