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Amid sanitary pad scare in Korea, handmade reusable pads are becoming popularKorea's women's civic group still raises concerns over the safety of sanitary pads despite the government's announcement
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승인 2017.09.29  18:18:58
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The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced on Sept. 28 that all sanitary pads and panty liners on the market which were suspected to contain toxic chemicals pose no health risks to consumers.

The results came after the Ministry conducted an inspection of a total of 666 products manufactured locally or imported since 2014. According to the findings, the level of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, found among the products was low enough that it is not harmful for consumers.

The finding also indicated that a woman who uses even up to 7.5 menstrual pads per day for 7 days a month during her lifetime will not be exposed to potential health risks, due to the low level of VOCs found in the pads.

To ensure further safety of the products, the ministry said it will complete tests for the other 74 VOCs by the end of the year.

The ministry decided to inspect the 10 VOCs as public concerns over the safety of sanitary pads mounted significantly in recent months after a civic group, the Korean Women’s Environmental Network, revealed in March this year that five sanitary pads and five panty liners contained toxic chemicals.

Photo courtesy Lee Ji-eun

Is it really safe? Korean women’s health advocacy group still raises concerns over its safety.
However, members of Korean Women’s Environmental Network women’s health advocacy group called for the government to further reinforce inspections on sanitary pads, suggesting that it’s still too early to conclude that all the sanitary pads are safe enough.

They claimed that there are still many other suspected harmful chemicals which were not included in the inspection, demanding the government tighten the regulations on all the women’s sanitary products.

Lee Joo-young, a famous Korean celebrity also condemned the government, saying “I cannot trust the government’s ostrich belief”

She raised her voice, saying “I am the one who experienced the negative effects of the sanitary pad which were found to contain toxic chemical. I am not the only one. I’ve met many people who have similar experiences. “

“I’ve been taken to the hospital emergency twice this year alone due to severe cramps after having used the Lilian sanitary pad for more than a year”, continued Lee, suggesting that she cannot trust the results of the government inspections.

The women’s advocacy group found in March that sanitary pads from the brand Lilian were revealed to contain the highest concentration of VOCs among the products tested.

Since the March announcement, a growing number of consumers reported what appeared to be side effects linked to VOCs. Amid escalating consumer concerns over potentially harmful sanitary pads, users of Lilian filed a 9 billion won ($7.97 million) class action suit earlier this month.

Photo courtesy Lee Ji-eun

Amid the sanitary pad scare in Korea, reusable, fabric sanitary products are becoming popular.

In spite of the health risks and environmental impact of disposable hygiene products, many women still have an impression that it will be inconvenient to switch to reusable alternatives.

After the sanitary pad scandal, all that is slowly changing, thankfully. Women are increasingly aware of the dangers of disposable menstrual products and the alternatives available.

Photo courtesy Lee Ji-eun

Lee Ji-eun from Seoul, author of ‘handmade sanitary pads’ is nowadays really busy having workshops and giving lectures on how to make alternative (or DIY-Do It Yourself) handmade sanitary pads.

“Once you get over the idea of ‘it’s inconvenient. I have to wash this, it’s really good, good for your creativity by making your own pads, but also for your health.’

Photo courtesy Lee Ji-eun

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