The safety of pantyliners is unclear. In the UK, it is not compulsory to display an ingredients list on absorbent hygiene product packaging so there is an absence of information regarding hygiene devices. Sanitary pads and diapers are frequently assessed yet pantyliners are not. This project investigated 8 pantyliner brands bought in UK stores and determined a chemical profile of each sample and whether they adhered to UK legislation.
This project designed and optimised a standard operating procedure to extract a genuine chemical profile from pantyliners under simulated exposure conditions. The samples were assessed using Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectroscopy and identified leached substances from the National Institute of Standards and Technology databases.
Each chemical profile was examined and identified multiple substances of very high concern (SVHCs). Overall, 8 substances were thoroughly interpreted with the consumers’ health and safety or interests of focus. The most significant findings identified Nicotine in half of the samples together with a mutagen, neurotoxin and phthalate.
This project revealed that UK legislation for absorbent hygiene products is quite obscure and that there is presently no governed organisation which accredits the integrity of hygiene products. The project found a number of unforeseen substances in pantyliners which supported the hypothesis that hygiene products are not satisfactorily regulated.
This project concluded that all absorbent hygiene products should be recategorised as medical devices to ensure the health and safety of the consumer. Specifically, the composition of pantyliners – which is the focus of this study – is unmonitored and could cause harm to the biologically vulnerable consumers who use them.
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