On Monday, a bill to require all women’s health and menstrual products in California to come with clear labeling and ingredient lists was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee following months of near-universal approvals in the Assembly and other Senate Committees.
A change for ingredient lists on women’s hygiene products
Assembly Bill 1989, authored by Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), would specifically have all menstrual products in California be relabeled after 2023. Products would have to list all ingredients by weight and have this information be readily available online. Menstrual products such as tampons, disks, pads, sponges, and cups that don’t give this information will be banned from sale within the state.
Assemblywoman Garcia wrote AB 1989 for health-related reasons. As many toxic chemicals are found within many menstrual products, the need for additional information was noted, especially for women who are allergic to some of the chemicals within the products. Supporters of the bill also note that menstrual products are often under-regulated, with many adverse health affects from such products being reported from chemicals found within them, such as as the fragrance chemical galaxolide.
‘It is imperative that consumers have a right to know what is in the products they will be using for over 40 years of their life, in order to protect their health,” said Assemblywoman Garcia earlier this year. “My goal with this legislation is to increase the awareness of the toxic chemicals currently in our menstrual products. It was troubling at best to learn that products people rely on contain Phthalates, Bisphenols, Parabens, and PFAS/PFOA which all have been found to be harmful to human health. Periods are not a luxury and people should have the knowledge to make safer choices.”
Opponents challenge bill over confidential ingredient lists
However, some opponents have said that AB 1989 will simply trade one set of regulations protecting chemical makers for another. Confidential Business Information (CBI) lists have specifically been cited by opponents of the bill.
“CBI listings are basically like a chemical or consumer products version of a trade secret,” explained former corporate lawyer Erica Fischer to the California Globe. “On the product lists that AB 1989 forces companies to give, it would allow for a CBI, which can hide a whole host of different chemicals and materials that could be harmful. But the kicker is that it’s not well regulated.
“For example, the FDA needs to verify the Coca-Cola secret recipe and KFC’s 11 herbs and spices to make sure nothing going in is bad as it is vital for those companies to not give up what makes their product unique. Not so for CBI. On the packaging of a period product, under this bill, we won’t know what’s fully in them. Many places research this sort of thing to let people with allergies and whatnot know what is inside to help protect them.”
Chemical testing of tampons since 2002 has found that many CBI listings on their product list have hidden, in some cases, close to a dozen dangerous chemicals.
“California needs to address this more than anything,” added Fischer.
Despite this and similar laws in other states like New York banning CBI on ingredient lists, AB 1989 has moved up fast in the state legislature. In June, the bill passed the Assembly unanimously 67-0, with 12 Assemblymembers abstaining. Just last week the Senate Health Committee also unanimously passed it, with many lawmakers voting for it praising it for letting consumers know in greater detail what is inside each women’s health product.
AB 1989 is expected to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.
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