Are There Toxins in Your Lena Cup?
On February 5th 2018, a friend showed me a public post on Facebook from Lead Safe Mama. There are a few sentences stating the blue Lena cup has Cadmium present at unsafe levels for your vagina.
The post has a photo of a blue Lena cup and the statement below:
“19 ppm Cadmium +/-7 To my knowledge items like this are not regulated for the presence of toxicants (like cadmium). This amount of cadmium is connsidered safe by all regulatory standards for toys…” Direct quote. See the post on Facebook here.
I visited her website and could not find an article with reports of how this number was obtained, just an about me page with a statement about the author in general from 2013 reporting “Tamara Rubin is an internationally recognized, award winning* lead-poisoning prevention advocate and documentary ﬁlmmaker. She took on the cause of childhood lead-poisoning when her own sons were poisoned by the work of a painting contractor in 2005.” More about Lead Safe Mama can be found here.
As someone who struggles with spelling and grammatical errors, my Grammarly program picked up two in just these two short paragraphs, making red lines appear on my computer.
I question the care that went into these statements, which have the potential to cause damage to the company and terrify consumers using the Lena cup.
What is Cadmium?
So next, I headed to Wikipedia.
Since the Facebook post provided zero education about what her test results mean, I thought it best to look up the element.
In short, Cadmium is a toxic metal.
Cadmium has been used in many consumer products over time and deemed hazardous to humans with it’s most dangerous exposure from “inhalation of fine dust and fumes, or ingestion of highly soluable cadmium compounds…” In addition, human exposure can occur from “…fossil fuel combustion, phosphate fertilizers, natural sources, iron and steel production, cement production and related activities, nonferrous metals production, and municipal solid waste incineration.”
“The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cadmium and cadmium compounds as carcinogenic to humans” and it’s known to be an endocrine disruptor. See more about Cadmium from Wikipedia. To cover just how toxic it is, I’d need to cut and paste nearly the entire article.
Should I throw away my Lena cup?
I am not tossing my Lena cup yet. There are too many questions to be answered. How did she come to these results? How many cups were tested? What were the testing conditions and environment like? Was this a brand new out of package cup or could it have been contaminated from the environment she tested it in?
I find two sentences on Facebook with zero context and grammatical errors to not have as much weight as a full published study with clear research conditions and statistics like the number of cups tested.
Someone could throw out their much loved and expensive menstrual cup over this, where’s the care and details? At least spell your accusation correctly…
Don’t freak out just yet, wait for the company and possibly even other sources to address this accusation. Maybe the blogger will release more details about her process instead of this photo and the short report.
*** Update ***
I will continue to update this post.
From Lena cup 2/5/2018
It has come to our attention that a claim has been made on an unofficial Facebook page that our products contain elevated levels of cadmium. Despite this unsubstantiated claim, please rest assured your LENA Cup is completely safe and non toxic.
At LENA, we only use medical grade silicone and medical grade dyes— materials batch-tested for biocompatibility with the body. Furthermore our finished products have completed International standard ISO 10993-1 “Biological testing of medical devices.” This scientific testing is considered the gold standard for measuring cytotoxicity of products that come in contact with the body. The final results of the testing, conducted by a third party laboratory showed no toxicity present from cadmium, or any other toxic substances.
We are consulting our attorneys regarding the distribution of false information and claims about our product without the support of scientific data and testing.
Please email us at hello (at) lenacup.com to let us know if you have any additional questions or would like any further clarification. We are always happy to help.
*** Update ***
To which Lead Safe Mama has responded by updating her Facebook post:
“Update for Lena and all of those new to my page: all of my testing is done with an XRF instrument, specifically a Niton XL3T – the same instrument used by the CPSC for consumer goods testing. This testing is accurate to single digit parts per million when testing for cadmium in silicone substrates.
Another update: now that the company has suggested they will be getting their lawyers involved to “fight” my truthful and scientifically accurate results, I invite you, my readers, to donate in support of my independent (unbiased) consumer goods toxicity testing and childhood lead poisoning prevention advocacy work. My GoFundMe can be found at http://www.GoFundMe.com/
What does this mean?
I don’t know… stay tuned. There is still no update about how the testing was conducted, the condition of the cup, lab conditions etc. I suppose we will all find out, especially if push comes to shove and she is required to prove her findings in lieu of a slandar allegation.
*** Update ***
On the Lead Mama’s Facebook page, there is a request for money to buy more cups to test.
Several more cup test results have been published to the Facebook page. I say published lightly, a scientific journal would not publish the findings because of the conditions and testing methods. When she says “scientifically accurate results” I make a face. Accurate how?
For example, One article leads to a blog post with what appears to be a brand new cup opened from it’s packaged and placed on a heavily trafficked wood table, perhaps a dining room set.
Things to remember
These are not tests conducted in laboratory conditions. Like, think sterile people in lab coats with a negative pressure air environment that does not allow any contaminants into the area.
It’s very clear that contaminants she “found” could stem from the non-sterile environment aka the used table she places menstrual cups on in her photos.
If anything, this should spark some interest in having cups tested by a reputable source. Perhaps an independent laboratory not paid or funded by a menstrual cup brand.
One cup being tested is not enough. Many cups need to be tested of the same brand and style.
I would like to see menstrual cups tested in a controlled, sterile laboratory and I would then receive that information well. What’s happening here is maybe for ratings or attention, perhaps she has good intentions…but the information is not accurate due to the non-control conditions and methods the testing is occurring in. Any high school science student could tell you any of this and it might even make a really fun project!
I do hope that it has sparked conversation and debate and I thank her for that!
What’s next? If anyone wants to find a testing lab I’m willing to chip in work and cups.