Safety Criterion on Sanitary Pads Highly Needed
Safety Criterion on Sanitary Pads Highly Needed
  • Reporter Park Hee-won
  • 승인 2017.12.06 00:11
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   ▲ Parts of Sanitary pads from supermarket

From last August, a sanitary pad caused a social dispute. Last March, Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) were found in domestic disposable sanitary pads including ‘Lilian’. This experiment was conducted by female-environment solidarity and Professor Kim Man-goo. Back then, it did not draw much attention. However, many women on the internet started to complain of inconveniences such as menstrual irregularity and severe premenstrual syndromes such as menstrual pain after using a Lilian sanitary pad. At first, KleanNara company, which produces Lilian, officially announced that Lilian passed the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) standard of safety and took a stance of offering no refunds. Then, an internet café to submit class action was made which led for KleanNara to decide to refund all Lilian pads. KleanNara stopped making and selling pads on Aug. 24.
The MFDS conducted a field investigation on major companies including KleanNara after being criticized for late action. The MFDS asserted that the result of the experiment in March was not to be trusted scientifically. Spontaneously, 10 products that were reported to contain TVOCs were made public owing to safety disputes. Those were the major ten pads of the Korean domestic market. The MFDS claimed pads’ safety because they concluded that a little amount of TVOCs created no damage to a human body. However, female-environment solidarity brought up with the validity of government’s experiment by citing ‘Haste makes waste’.
The most radical solution is to find out what particular compound triggered the health problems. Professor Kim’s experiment revealed the mere fact that an unknown harmful material was discovered, not knowing the main cause of the side-effects. The MFDS also failed to find the culprit of the side effects, but announced that no pads were confirmed harmful. Also, the MFDS primarily examined only ten relatively noxious materials amongst TVOCs while ignoring others. Moreover, the MFDS once mistakenly revealed wrong results which were revised later. These are the reasons that people have criticized the swift announcement from the MFDS. Just saying everything is okay is not the ideal attitude. To overcome this situation, our society needs a new criteria for examining all upcoming menstrual products. An epidemiologic survey must be done together. There is still is no safety criterion on the sanitary pad worldwide, suggesting that there is worldly indifference toward female health.
It is the first time that disposable pads have become a hot issue. Despite the MFDS process to examine all products in the market, anxiety has become rampant that no sanitary pads are safe here. In spite of the statement of the MFDS that pads cause no harm to females, there are still numerous women suffering from menstrual disorders and side-effects from the pads. Females have to find another way to spend their periods healthy, which can be directly blamed on the irresponsibility of the government. In addition, they are having difficulties with the prices and accessibility towards organic pads and menstrual cups. The market in the Jigok Student Center used to sell safe sanitary pads from abroad through overseas direct purchase. However, it was not a stable route to continuously provide products. Presently, the POSTECH Female Undergraduate Association is now in the process of contacting major companies abroad.