The period underwear industry is contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals.” How do we know this? We tested the top 17 products and found that 65% of period underwear contained fluorine, which is indicative of PFAS “forever chemicals.” So what about the popular brand Sustain Natural period underwear? You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best & worst non-toxic shampoos, best & worst non-toxic lotions, & best & worst collagens, now join us for the fluorine (really PFAS) lab results of Sustain Natural Period Underwear.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. It also contains affiliate links.
Potential Health Effects of PFAS Chemicals from Research
PFAS (aka PFCs or perfluorinated chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS) are added to many products we purchase to make them “stain-resistant,” “grease-proof,” and “water-resistant.” In food packaging, they are used in popcorn bags, pizza boxes, fast food canisters & wrappers, and the flat dish on the bottom of cakes. They are also in carpeting, furniture, & clothing as “stain-proof” agents. You can also find them on non-stick pans, some tooth flosses, and cosmetics.
Here is the list of health problems (PFAS) perfluorinated chemicals are linked with.
- reduction in immunity
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- reduced vaccination response
- cardiovascular disease
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- increase cholesterol levels
- low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of cancer like testicular & kidney cancers
Our government believes PFAS is so problematic, it forced one dairy farmer to euthanize over 4,000 cows that were contaminated with this chemical. In other words, this is a big deal to us and the environment and it’s not a good idea to have it around your vagina.
“These results add to the growing body of evidence reaffirming that we need to know more, not less, about the ingredients in period products. Millions use menstrual products monthly. It is unacceptable that there are so many unknowns about the ingredients, safety, and health impacts of products that come into contact with one of the most sensitive and absorbent parts of the body,” said Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science and Research at Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national environmental health organization, that has been advocating for ingredient transparency and safety of period care products for the last decade. “Furthermore this new testing also shows that PFAS-free period underwear is possible. Which means, not only are these chemicals adding potentially harmful exposure to our bodies and the environment, but they are also unnecessary to the performance and efficacy of these products.”
If you feel like you’ve been exposed to PFAS, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of Community Health Investigations has created this fact sheet to use when talking to your doctor.
9,000+ PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Are Impossible to Test For Directly
Because there are over 9,000 of these PFAS “forever chemicals” and testing is only available for about a couple dozen, it’s impossible to test for them all directly. This was a real big problem for the composting industry when ascertaining whether food packaging was safe to be certified as “compostable” for the gardens of consumers. So they devised a plan to test instead for fluorine, which is the chemical all PFAS chemicals have in common. Testing for fluorine and finding it at certain levels can indicate whether PFAS was “intentionally added” or not and how much is inside.
Mamavation did this type of testing the other day when we tested the top period underwear products for PFAS and found 65% of them contained fluorine, meaning the period underwear industry has a big PFAS problem as well.
Because testing for fluorine is the only standard that is out there, we’ve adapted this to fabrics and are using it for our investigation on fibers & fabrics.
Lab Results of From Testing Sustain Natural Period Underwear
An EPA-certified laboratory conducted tests of Total Fluorine by Oxygen Flask Combustion and Ion-Selective Electrode on Sustain Natural Period Underwear. The Level of Detection was 10 ppm.
The Sustain Natural period underwear was purchased between May of 2020 and December of 2020 and the packaging was not opened. The contents inside were only handled by the laboratory, so these were not MY used period underwear, but a brand new pair.
- Sustain Natural Period Underwear–71 parts per million (ppm) & 17 parts per million (ppm) fluorine
So what does this mean? In the world of food packaging, they would say this is not “intentionally added” but a possible point of contamination. What type of PFAS are they using? We don’t know. There are 9,000 or more of these chemicals and it’s impossible for us to find out. But because Sustain Natural Period Underwear was found with contamination high enough to be detected, we cannot recommend this brand.
To view the entire period underwear investigation and the side-by-side results of 17 different products, click here.
Period Underwear Brands We Tested With No Detectable Fluorine
Mamavation used an EPA-certified lab to do this testing. No fluorine was detected in any of these products sent to the lab in 2020 and 2021. The Level of Qualification (LOQ) for testing was 10 parts per million, therefore if products had fluorine at lower levels, the test would not find it. We cannot guarantee these brands will continue to test the same. This was only a snapshot in time to help guide you in purchases.
- Lilova (no fluorine detected)(*newest brand added) Use discount code “MAMAVATION20” for 20% off your order.
- Aisle (formerly known as Lunapads) (no fluorine detected) Use discount code “MAMAVATION10” for $10 off any order over $35 placed on periodaisle.com here.
- Bambody (no fluorine detected)
- Intimate Portal (no fluorine detected)
- Period (no fluorine detected) Use discount code “MAMA” for a special sale of “Buy 3 panties and get 1 free”
- Modibodi (no fluorine detected) Use discount code “MAMAV10” for 10% off orders over $100 for new customers. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer, on sale, gift cards or bundle packs. Limit one per customer.
- Revol (no fluorine detected) Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 15% off your first purchase.