The average American woman uses more than 16,000 tampons in her lifetime and one thing they continue to be wary of is the amount of dioxins in tampons. Dioxins are thought to be caused by the bleaching processes involved in creating the fabric of tampons, usually cotton, rayon or blends of the two. According to the FDA, at one time bleaching wood pulp was a potential source of very small amounts of dioxin in tampons, but that bleaching method is no longer used. The kind of bleaching that is used now, known as elemental chlorine-free bleaching, is thought to eliminate the dioxin problem. The FDA says if it does release any, it’s at extremely low levels—levels it says do not present a health risk.
But another potential health problem, Toxic Shock Syndrome, might be caused by the use of synthetic materials in tampons. TSS surfaced in 1978, and it is a complication of a bacterial infection that can happen from wearing a tampon for too long, especially a large size tampon. It was thought to have been largely eliminated but in 2012 the model Lauren Wasser nearly died from it, and had to have a leg amputated. Her family is suing Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which manufactures the tampons that allowed bacteria to flourish and Wasser to become sick with TSS. The family believes the use of synthetic materials in the tampon put Lauren at risk and puts other women at risk too