ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York could soon become the first state to require ingredient labels on feminine hygiene products under legislation awaiting action by the governor.
The measure, which passed the Legislature last week, aims to inform consumers about allergens, fragrances, synthetic materials and potentially hazardous chemicals in a product used by millions of New York women every day.
Supporters hope other states follow New York, or that manufacturers choose to alter their packaging nationwide rather than create specific packaging for products sold in New York in order to comply.
"No one should have to worry that their period products will cause harm to their health or future fertility," said Amber Garcia, executive director of Women's Voices for the Earth, an environmental and health organization headquartered in Missoula, Montana.
Manufacturers, which could have to create new state-specific packaging to comply with the proposal, argue their products are safe and held to rigorous safety standards, since they are classified as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration.
Jane Wishneff, executive director for the Arlington, Virginia-based Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products, noted that many manufacturers already post information about ingredients online and must follow federal rules requiring safety instructions and warnings on labels.
"Additional ingredient information could create confusion for consumers and distract from key safety information," she said in an emailed statement.
Feminine hygiene products often contain a blend of cotton and rayon, along with dyes and nonwoven fabrics made from "high molecular weight polymers" with a long record of safety, according to information from Wishneff's organization, which estimates that American women spend $3 billion on the products every year.
Lawmakers who pushed for the bill don't buy the industry's arguments, noting that other kinds of personal care products already come with ingredients listed on the labels, such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorants and makeup.
"It's a consumer's right to know what is in a product," the bill's Assembly sponsor, Manhattan Democrat Linda Rosenthal told The Associated Press Wednesday. "What's in a product that I'm putting in my most private areas? What are they hiding? What don't they want people to know?"
Cuomo has not yet weighed in on the bill. His office said it will be reviewed before Cuomo decides whether to sign it into law.
This story has been corrected to show that the statement from the Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products should be attributed to the organization's executive director, not its spokeswoman.