Billions of Nano-plastics in my vagina?!
I know what you're thinking. That number is scary- and can it possibly be real? Yes, period products are shedding that many particles into your body with every period and we are not happy about it!
Recently there has been a buzz in the scientific community about microplastics; miniscule plastic particulates that break off in the production and degradation of our favorite plastic products. Scientists have just begun to understand the negative impact these particles have on the environment and our biologies. Microplastics are so small that they float in the air and interact with organisms on a cellular level. They affect the permeability of the cell wall and wreak havoc on species integral to our food webs. In a study done on fishes for the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, it was found that microplastics affected their “metabolism, neurological behavior, intestinal microbiome diversity, and intestinal permeability.” By negatively impacting one or more species in an ecosystem, these particulates serve a greater threat to the environmental balance as a whole. Furthermore, in a similar process as the fish, microplastics seep into our bodies and can cause respiratory malfunction as well as cancer.
However, there is an even more silent and possibly deadly side to microplastics: nanoplastics. Nanoplastics are even smaller plastic particles that are made in the production of goods. If microplastics affect the cellular level, nanoplastics go straight to the molecules themselves. Understanding of nanoplastics by the scientific community is still in its infancy, yet a few alarming characteristics of nanoplastics have been found. The chief of them being, its colloidal nature. Because nanoplastics are so small, they don’t interact with water the way microplastics do. Instead of collecting like sediment, nanoplastics disperse throughout water due to their minuscule nature. They collide with the water molecules themselves, which diffuses the particles evenly through the water supply. This means that nanoplastics can’t be filtered out or avoided. And although their harmful effects are still in debate, if microplastics cause detrimental harm, then nanoplastics are certainly cause for concern.
Countless goods that consumers rely upon contain nanoplastic particulate matter. Ones that might not be obvious, but are guilty all the same are period products. Factory produced pads, tampons, and diva cups alike all contain nanoplastics. And just as microplastics seep into our lungs to cause respiratory problems, nanoplastics interact with our vaginal walls becoming a potential cervical cancer risk. The compounded use of the products over decades only serves to augment their carcinogenic effects on our biological systems.
What are women to do about this? It’s not like we can avoid period products altogether. Luckily we don’t have to. These harmful substances are found in mass produced non-natural goods. However, all-natural products provide all the utility of our favorite period line, while also securing the safety of reduced plastics.
On a side note: I implore you to research this matter further yourself. Take your bodily agency and protection seriously and learn about what could be impacting you. I wrote this article to introduce you to this debate, but it’s important that you form an educated opinion. You can never learn enough about your body and ways to protect and love it.