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Everything You Need To Know About PFAS And Period Underwear

June 13, 2024

Everything You Need To Know About PFAS And Period Underwear

Have you been hearing the buzz about PFAS? As someone interested in period underwear, you might be wondering, “What even are these chemicals and what do they have to do with period underwear?” We’re here to clear up the confusion so you can make an informed choice about how to care for your body.

Key Takeaways

  • PFAS, often called 'forever chemicals,' are used in many consumer products for their water and stain-resistant properties.
  • Repeated exposure to high levels of PFAS can lead to severe health issues, including hormone disruption, high blood pressure, cancer, and birth defects.
  • PFAS are used in period underwear to make the fabric more absorbent and stain-resistant.
  • Regulatory oversight on PFAS in menstrual products is limited, making it hard for consumers to know if their products are safe.
  • There are non-toxic alternatives and ongoing research aimed at finding safer options for period underwear.

Understanding PFAS: Definition and Properties

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals first created in the late 1930s. These substances are known for their resistance to heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. PFAS are a category of over 12,000 compounds that have stick-, stain-, and water-resistant properties, which are desirable characteristics for some products. However, because these compounds don’t break down easily in the environment or our bodies, they are persistent and bioaccumulative, earning them the moniker of “forever chemicals.” Researchers have linked exposure to PFAS with an increased risk of negative health outcomes, including some cancers and immune suppression.

Health Implications of PFAS Exposure

Period underwear with a warning sign and chemical symbols for PFAS, indicating potential health risks.

Routes of Exposure

People can be exposed to PFAS in a variety of ways, including by drinking contaminated water and eating food that's either grown near places that use PFAS or packaged in material that contains them. The molecular structure of PFAS makes them very difficult to break down and many accumulate in blood and organs, so even small exposures may add to the amount of PFAS in your body.

Short-term and Long-term Health Effects

Scientists are still working to understand the exact effects of PFAS exposure, but a growing body of evidence is linking it to harmful health outcomes. Exposure has been associated with many negative health effects, including immune system effects, increased cholesterol levels, decreased infant and fetal growth, and increased risk of various cancers. Studies suggest that at least some types of PFAS may alter metabolism, cause fertility issues, increase the risk of certain cancers, and reduce the ability for the immune system to fight infections.

Vulnerable Populations

Certain populations may be more susceptible to the health problems that may be associated with PFAS. For example, exposure to PFAS also increases a person’s susceptibility to metabolic syndrome, a group of disorders including obesity, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol or fat levels, and impaired glucose tolerance. High levels of PFAS may decrease how well the body responds to vaccines, reducing antibody production.

PFAS in Period Underwear: An Overview

Reasons for Use in Menstrual Products

PFAS were developed and became commonly used in many consumer products because they are extremely proficient at repelling liquids like water and oil. Some period underwear companies have used PFAS in their underwear as a stain- and water-resistant coating to protect the fabric despite advertising that their period underwear is “organic and nontoxic.” Society is now learning, however, that repeated exposure to high levels of PFAS can be dangerous.

Detection and Testing Methods

It’s unclear whether other period products contain PFAS or other toxins because they’re not rigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers aren’t required to list all the materials used in them. This lack of transparency makes it challenging for consumers to make informed choices. Advanced testing methods are required to detect the presence of PFAS in period underwear, including mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography.

Regulatory Oversight and Gaps

News of the lawsuit is calling into question the safety of the materials in the undergarment. It’s also highlighting just how hard it is to know whether or not period underwear has PFAS. The regulatory landscape is currently insufficient, as there are no stringent requirements for manufacturers to disclose the presence of PFAS in their products. This regulatory gap leaves consumers vulnerable and underscores the need for more comprehensive oversight.

Consumer Awareness and Safety Concerns

Identifying PFAS in Products

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the presence of PFAS in everyday products, including period underwear. Avoiding exposures to harmful chemicals should not be the consumer’s responsibility. However, being informed can help individuals make better choices about what products to use. PFAS are often found in personal care products, household items, and even food packaging. Identifying these chemicals can be challenging due to insufficient labeling and regulatory gaps.

Impact of Media and Public Awareness

Media coverage has played a significant role in raising public awareness about the risks associated with PFAS exposure. Reports and articles have highlighted the potential health risks, leading to increased consumer demand for transparency. When consumers demand transparency related to these issues, businesses are compelled to listen. This shift in consumer behavior has led some companies to reconsider their use of PFAS in products to avoid harming their reputation.

Legal and Advocacy Efforts

Legal actions and advocacy efforts are crucial in addressing the challenges posed by PFAS. Organizations and activists are working tirelessly to push for stricter regulations and better disclosure of PFAS-related risks. For instance, the costs associated with exposure to toxic chemicals, like poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), raise significant health, safety, and reputational concerns. These efforts aim to protect public health and ensure that consumers are better informed about the products they use.

Alternatives to PFAS in Period Underwear

Non-toxic Material Options

In the quest to eliminate PFAS from menstrual products, manufacturers are exploring a variety of non-toxic material options. These alternatives include organic cotton, bamboo fibers, and other natural materials that offer similar absorbency and comfort without the associated health risks. Removing the PFAS and replacing them with less toxic substances that do the same job should be comparatively easy. However, the challenge lies in ensuring that these materials are sourced and processed without contamination from PFAS, which can sometimes occur during the production of raw materials.

Industry Innovations and Research

The industry is witnessing significant innovations aimed at creating safer period underwear for women. Research is focused on developing new technologies that enhance the absorbency and durability of menstrual products without relying on harmful chemicals. Companies are investing in advanced testing methods to detect and eliminate PFAS from their supply chains. This proactive approach not only ensures consumer safety but also promotes transparency and trust in the market.

Consumer Choices and Recommendations

Consumers play a crucial role in driving the demand for safer menstrual products. By choosing period underwear that is certified PFAS-free, individuals can reduce their exposure to these harmful chemicals. It is essential to read labels and seek out products that explicitly state they are free from PFAS and other toxins. Additionally, consumers can support brands that prioritize sustainability and transparency in their manufacturing processes. For more information on selecting the right period underwear, visit period underwear for women.

Future Directions in PFAS Research and Regulation

Ongoing Scientific Studies

The scientific community is actively engaged in understanding the complexities of PFAS, with numerous studies focusing on their environmental and health impacts. Researchers are particularly interested in developing predictive screening tests to better assess the risks associated with these chemicals. Federal agencies are also investing in research to identify safer alternatives to PFAS. This ongoing research is crucial for informing both public policy and consumer choices.

Policy and Regulatory Changes

There is a growing consensus among scientists and policymakers that stricter regulations are needed to manage PFAS effectively. Current regulations are often seen as insufficient, leading to calls for more comprehensive legislation. Activists are advocating for the elimination of PFAS in non-essential products, while manufacturers argue that they need more time to find suitable replacements. Litigation is also becoming a more realistic avenue for enforcing stricter controls on PFAS use.

Global Perspectives and Actions

The issue of PFAS is not confined to any single country; it is a global concern. Different nations are adopting various strategies to tackle the problem, from stringent regulations to public awareness campaigns. International cooperation is essential for addressing the widespread impact of PFAS. Global perspectives on PFAS management can offer valuable insights and drive collective action towards safer alternatives and better regulatory frameworks.


In conclusion, the presence of PFAS in period underwear raises significant health concerns due to their potential for long-term exposure and adverse health effects. These 'forever chemicals' are utilized for their liquid-repelling properties, making them a common component in various consumer products, including menstrual products. However, the lack of rigorous testing and transparency in material disclosure by manufacturers complicates the ability of consumers to make informed choices. As awareness grows, it is crucial for both consumers and manufacturers to advocate for safer alternatives and more stringent regulatory oversight to ensure the health and safety of individuals using these products.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFAS?

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of man-made chemicals known for their ability to repel water and oil. They are often referred to as 'forever chemicals' because they do not break down easily in the environment.

Why are PFAS used in period underwear?

PFAS are used in period underwear to provide stain and water resistance. This helps to protect the fabric and make the underwear more absorbent and durable.

How can I identify if my period underwear contains PFAS?

Identifying PFAS in period underwear can be challenging as manufacturers are not always required to disclose all materials used. Look for products that specifically state they are PFAS-free or have been tested by third-party laboratories.

What are the health risks associated with PFAS exposure?

Exposure to high levels of PFAS can lead to various health issues, including hormone disruption, high blood pressure, cancer, and birth defects if exposed during pregnancy.

Are there alternatives to PFAS in period underwear?

Yes, there are non-toxic material options available. Some companies are researching and innovating to use safer alternatives that provide similar benefits without the health risks associated with PFAS.

What should I do if I'm concerned about PFAS in my period underwear?

If you're concerned about PFAS in your period underwear, consider switching to brands that are transparent about their materials and have certifications or third-party testing to ensure they are PFAS-free.

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