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Introduction of the Robin Danielson Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


INTRODUCTION OF THE ROBIN DANIELSON ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - January 29, 2008)

SPEECH OF
HON. CAROLYN B. MALONEY
OF NEW YORK
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2008

* Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Madam Speaker, Robin Danielson's two daughters will never forget the tragic day in Speaker, 1998 when their mother died at the age of 44. Nor will they forget the preventable illness that killed her.

* Like thousands of others, Robin Danielson was the victim of Toxic Shock Syndrome, TSS, a rare but potentially life-threatening illness that is often linked to high-absorbency tampon use. Robin's death could have been prevented if only she had recognized the symptoms. Yet, even today, many women are not fully aware of the risks of tampon use or TSS.

* According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one to two of every 100,000 women between the ages of 15-44 years old will be diagnosed with TSS each year. Yet, the last national surveillance was conducted in 1987 and in only four States. Moreover, although TSS is a nationally notifiable disease that States report to CDC, reporting by the States is voluntary. Dismissed as ``sporadic,'' the CDC has not even released this information to the public since 2003. Clearly, we do not have enough transparent or timely information to evaluate the reality of TSS today.

* The presence of dioxin--a probable cancer-causing agent--in tampons is also a major concern to women's health. Tampons currently sold in the United States are composed of rayon, cotton, or a combination of both. Alarmingly, rayon is produced from bleached wood pulp, and dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine bleaching of pulp. Although chlorine-free bleaching processes are available, most wood pulp manufacturers use elemental chlorine-free bleaching processes. These processes use chlorine dioxide as a bleaching agent and thus still produce dioxin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, even 100 percent cotton tampons and completely chlorine-free tampons have trace amounts of dioxin due to decades of pollution that have led to the infiltration of dioxin in the air, water, and ground and thus can be found in both cotton and wood pulp.

* The effects of dioxin are cumulative. Women may be exposed to dioxin in tampons and other menstrual products for as long as 60 years over the course of their reproductive lives. Although the FDA requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels in their finished products, this information is not readily available to the public.

* I am proud to reintroduce the Robin Danielson Act, which would amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a uniform program for the collection and analysis of data on Toxic Shock Syndrome. The bill also directs the National Institutes of Health, NIH, to conduct research to determine the extent to which the presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, and other additives in tampons and related products pose any health risks to women and asks the Centers for Disease Control, CDC to collect and report information on TSS.


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