Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) and Rayon

Super Absorbent Polymers (also called slush powder) can absorb and retain extremely large amounts of a liquid relative to its own mass.

The largest use of SAPs is found in personal disposable hygiene products, such as baby diapers, adult diapers and sanitary napkins. SAP was discontinued from use in tampons due to 1980s concern over a link with toxic shock syndrome.

It turns out that most pads and tampons aren’t actually made with cotton. Most are made of synthetic material like rayon or SAPs (Super Absorbent Polymers). These materials are often bleached with chlorine to give them that pristine white look. Yes, some pads and tampons are made with cotton—but it tends to be traditionally grown cotton as opposed to organic cotton.

Apart from cotton, rayon (synthetic fiber derived from wood pulp) is also used in your sanitary pads. Rayon is cheaper than cotton and helps to enhance the absorption capacity of pads, but also contains dioxin from the bleaching process.

Dioxin is linked to cancer in the ovaries, bladder, breasts, and uterus. Dioxins also cause Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases and Endometriosis.

Conventionally grown cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and these chemicals can stay on the cotton long after it has been harvested. Side effects of exposure include infertility, hormonal disruption, thyroid malfunction, diabetes, endometriosis, and depression.

EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) studies found the sanitary napkins emitted chemicals, like styrene, chloroethane and chloroform. The World Health Organization classifies styrene as a carcinogen. And the EPA says short-term exposure to high concentrations of chloromethane can have neurological effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says high levels of exposure to chloroethane can result in a lack of muscle coordination and unconsciousness.