Legislation to prohibit certain substances in period products
ALBANY, NY (WENY)-- The sale of personal care and cosmetic products containing the substance of mercury was banned in New York State in 2022. But some period products can still contain certain substances like mercury and lead that could result in harmful health effects.
Some New York State lawmakers are looking to pass a bill that would prohibit the use of such substances in period products.
“I introduced this to try and make our industries be different—produce safe products that can be safely disposed of and won’t have long-term harmful effects,” said Sen. Nathalia Fernandez (D-34th Senate District), bill sponsor.
The legislation states there is ambiguity in which certain substances can be included in fragrances, dyes, colorants, and preservatives.
Sen. Fernandez said the fragrance addition to these products in particular is problematic not only for it's potential health effects but because it perpetuates a stigma around periods.
“We tried to hide our period and everything about it and now, we’re seeing that the chemicals used to add fragrance to these products are harmful to us. So, this is creating a level of awareness that you don’t need all the fancy chemicals just to take care of your period,” she said.
The bill writes a specific ban on the use of restricted substances for any use in the product including fragrances, colorants, dyes, and preservatives.
Dr. Manuel Arreguin, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology for the Guthrie Clinic said he is concerned about the use of substances like lead, mercury, and formaldehyde in these products.
“We see a fair amount of patients that come to us with complaints of let’s say, vaginal itching concerns especially after some of the products and all the different products that they try,” he said.
Arreguin said it can be tricky to pinpoint which products might be causing side effects.
WENY reached out to Procter & Gamble, manufacturing company for a variety of period product brands, but they did not respond in time for publication.
While this legislation didn't make it across the finish line during the most recent session in Albany, Sen. Fernandez said she believes the bill will gain more momentum in the next session.