Feminine intimate products (FIPs) are consumer products typically used by women from the age at which menstruation begins. Hygienic products such as tampons, sanitary napkins and menstrual cups are most common. Kegel-exercise devices are later used in life, which are silicone covered weights inserted internally to strengthen the pelvic muscle. Currently in the EU, FIPs are not subject to any specific safety requirements imposed by the EU legislation. We are currently evaluating if hazardous substances can be released by these products and harm its users.
Although feminine intimate products are widely used and come in close contact with internal parts of the human body, there is at present no specific legislation in the EU that regulates their safety. It is, however, well-known that hazardous chemical substances may leach out of polymer materials used to manufacture FIPs. Hence, information on the type and amount of leachable chemicals in combination with their toxicological profile is essential to be able to perform a proper safety assessment of FIPs, especially since there is not only external (e.g. sanitary napkins, panty liners) but also direct internal (e.g. tampons, menstrual cups) contact with the female genital area.
In this research project, a generic strategy will be developed to characterise potential health hazards related to the use of FIPs. To achieve this, new analytical tools will be developed to identify and quantify the leachable chemicals of FIPs. Subsequently, leachable compounds with the highest concern for human health will be selected using in silico tools for toxicity prediction in combination with available toxicological information from open literature and databases.
High priority substances will be further assessed for their biocompatibility as well as their potential genotoxic and endocrine disruptive properties using validated in chemico, in silico and in vitro methodologies, to avoid unnecessary animal testing.