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How Safe Is Your Napkin?

The harmful chemicals used in sanitary pads and tampons raised concerns throughout the world. The sanitary napkins used by an urban woman raised questions about the health impact of certain chemicals used in their manufacture, as well as the environmental issues of disposing of them. Because of potential risk factors, some women have opted for organic sanitary pads as an alternative and others have decided to use reusable sanitary pads, said health experts.

One of the commonest chemical used in sanitary napkins is dioxin. It is used to bleach the cream coloured cotton to make it milk-white. But the colour white hardly guarantees purity. The dioxin is highly toxic and World Health Organization (WHO) lists dioxin as one of the 'dirty dozen' – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutant and carcinogen (causes cancer). Dioxin is linked with the following side effects in the body: pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cancer, immune system damage, hormone dysfunction, impaired fertility, diabetes and impaired thyroid function.

The levels of dioxin in sanitary napkins are quite low, they are still dangerous as dioxin accumulates in the fat stores of the body and can add up to the residual levels over time. The research says, an urban woman disposes almost 16,800 pads in her lifetime. So, the effect, eventually, is quite dangerous. Off late, there has been a trend to switch to organic napkin like Drion. The negative ion chip in Drion absorbs three times faster, emits infrared for healthy menstruation and provides relief during periods. Unlike other available in the market which are made using plastics and chemicals, Drions are 100% Bio-degradable and thus environment friendly, said Arti Tandon, who has been campaigning against harmful effects of conventional napkins.

Apart from cotton, rayon is yet another synthetic polymer that is added to these napkins to enhance the absorbing capacity. Rayon also has dioxin in it. Besides, the pesticides and herbicides found in sanitary napkins cause trouble to human health. These are the chemicals that are sprayed on the cotton crops. A chemical named furan stays on the cotton long after it has been harvested, which can cause immense harm. These have been linked with infertility, hormonal disruption, thyroid malfunction, diabetes, endometriosis and depression.

Besides, artificial fragrances and deodorant are used. These substances are added to the napkins during the manufacturing process. Although they can also enter the bloodstream, like in the cases of pesticides and dioxin, they can also have an effect locally on the vagina and in turn cause allergies and skin reactions.

"This is where an organic sanitary napkin like Drion comes to our rescue," said Shalini Mishra, a general physician. It is very comfortable, reduces pain, soothes the skin and has also eliminated the harmful effects of plastics which certain brands have. Being a doctor I advise my patients to use it. It has helped some of my patients in improving their sleep pattern, reducing allergic reactions and eliminating bad odour. Negative ion in Drion helps in eliminating harmful bacteria and enhances body detoxification, she added.

"I have been using Drion for a year now, and it has been a wonderful, life-changing experience for me. Only after using Drion, did I realize how bad the regular pads available in the market are. They are full of perfumes and chemicals. Drion on the other hand has not only reduced the bleeding and pain, but I also don't need to change as many times because of its absorption capacity. I am glad I was introduced to Drion," said Simrandeep Kaur, a film editor

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