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New York becomes first state to require companies to list ingredients on menstrual products

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law Friday helping women navigate menstrual products on the same day as the United Nation's International Day of the Girl. The legislation will make New York the first state in the country to require companies to print a "plain and conspicuous" list of ingredients on all menstrual product packages or boxes.

The law goes into effect in 180 days and companies will have 18 months to create new packaging that meets the requirement. 

Menstrual products may contain "toxic and allergenic chemicals" that are not federally required to be disclosed, Cuomo's office said in a statement.

Cuomo tweeted that he is "proud to sign legislation... ending an injustice and empowering women to make their own decisions about what goes into their bodies."

According to the FDA, the risks of using tampons include adverse tissue reactions, vaginal injury or infection and Toxic Shock Syndrome, while menstrual pads may cause adverse tissue reactions. The governor's statement also cites reproductive health risks and urinary tract infections that can arise from poor menstrual hygiene. 

Because menstrual products are generally classified as medical devices by the FDA, companies are not required to list ingredients on packaging labels. The FDA does, however, maintain a guide of recommendations for creating and distributing the products. 

Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, said it will help hold companies accountable.

"Every single New Yorker who uses tampons and pads will know exactly what's in the products they use in and on some of the most sensitive parts of their bodies," she said. "Menstrual product ingredient disclosure is a vital consumer empowerment tool."

Period. Half the population has one. But no one talks about it. 22:52

The law is part of a series of menstrual and period poverty advocacy legislation Cuomo has passed over the past few years.

In 2018 he required all public schools to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms and mandated that women in state and local correctional facilities receive free feminine hygiene products. In 2016, he eliminated the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove a quote that incorrectly referred to women needing feminine hygiene products one week a year, rather than one week a month.

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