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Urban Legends

Fiberglass in Tampons

The Legend

Found on the Internet in December 1997

Many tampon makers make tampons that have fiberglass in them, just like the fiberglass used in insulation. And the reason they do it? They do it because glass can cut you and make you bleed, and the more you bleed the more tampons you need. Gross.

You'd think this would be illegal, wouldn't you? Well, the Food and Drug Administration says that because tampons aren't ingested, they don't count as food or drugs, so they don't come under that department's jurisdiction. Instead, because the issue is fiberglass, all complaints have been routed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which could care less about tampons unless they are being used to reinforce concrete or something, and to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is only interested if you use tampons as part of your job. There has been a suggestion that the Environmental Protection Agency should be informed, but they will only act against fiberglass if it is inhaled, and we don't even want to go there.

Are you as outraged about this as I am? I know I am! But what can be done about it? Well, what we need to do is get the Food and Drug Administration involved, since they are the ones that can really put teeth in a ban against fiberglass in tampons. And the only way we can do this is to make this their issue by moving tampons to their jurisdiction. That is why I am calling on all women -- and their men! -- to start eating tampons. You don't have to eat a lot, just enough to convince the powers that be that they have to do something.

Go to www.eatatampon.com for recipes.

Dr. Dodgson Katzenellenbogen
Molecular and Intrusive Physiology department
University of Illinois, Pennsylvania


Behind the Legend

This urban legend is similar to the one that says Band-Aids contain asbestos so that you'll bleed more and need more Band-Aids. And it's just as misleading. Just as the asbestos in Band-Aids is there to make the adhesive strips fire retardant, the fiberglass in tampons is there to make them as structurally strong as possible. Without fiberglass, tampons would be less like rigid glass rods and more like cotton balls -- and is that what you'd really want? So you see, there's no evil conspiracy behind the inclusion of this substance in their manufacture.

It shouldn't be surprising that something mass-produced in a large factory by a major corporation is full of chemicals. In fact, most tampons also contain other interesting substances, such as:

  • Bleach: to make them white
  • Alar: to repel pests
  • Fluoride: to prevent buildup of plaque
  • Chlorine: in case you go swimming
  • Solium: the sunlight ingredient
  • Polyester: to prevent wrinkling

But is this cause for alarm? Only if you don't like those things, and most people aren't that worried about what's in their tampons so long as there are no carbs involved. True, some novel approaches to tampons have proved to be less than healthy (e.g., glow-in-the-dark tampons for camping, novelty "pop-pons" produced during the Pop Rocks craze, and the ones with wings), but none of these are still on the market.

Tampons do cause problems such as death from toxic shock syndrome on occasion, and they are a common source of vaginal blockage, but many women have used them nonfatally for years.

Now, it's true that fiberglass in tampons can lead to bleeding, endometriosis, immune suppression, cancer, and more cancer, and even though the incidence of such problems is small (less than 1 in 100 for each tampon used) there may indeed be reason for some particularly health-conscious individuals to protest. We do not, however, recommend eating tampons.


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