Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds and Use of Feminine Hygiene Products Among Reproductive-Aged Women in the United States.
J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2019 Sep 18. Epub 2019 Sep 18. PMID: 31532304
Feminine hygiene products (FHPs) are personal care products widely used by women. A few studies have detected some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in FHPs, but no previous epidemiological studies have linked use of these products to human exposure to VOCs using biomarkers. Therefore, we evaluated whether the use of FHPs was associated with VOC exposures among reproductive-aged women in the United States.Data on 2432 women aged 20-49 years from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004 were utilized. Self-reported use of feminine products (tampons, sanitary napkins, vaginal douches, sprays, powders, wipes/towelettes, and other products) was obtained from questionnaires. Survey-weighted linear regression models were used to estimate percent changes in VOC whole blood concentrations and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).Black women had significantly more use of vaginal douching and significantly higher whole blood concentrations of 1,4-dichlorobenzene (DCB) ( < 0.0001). After adjusting for confounders, we observed a dose-response relationship between the frequency of vaginal douching in the past 6 months and 1,4-DCB concentrations. Compared with never users, women with occasional use (≤1 time/month) of vaginal douching had 18% (95% CI: -12% to 59%) higher concentrations, and those with frequent use (≥2 time/month) had 81% (95% CI: 2% to 221%) higher concentrations of 1,4-DCB (for trend = 0.04). Use of feminine powder in the past month was significantly associated with 36% (95% CI: 0.4% to 83%) higher concentrations of ethylbenzene.Our findings suggest that differences in whole blood VOC concentrations might be explained by feminine hygiene practices. The presence of environmental chemicals in FHPs warrants further examination.