|Jakarta - An Indonesian consumer group has slammed the Ministry of Health for downplaying reports that some popular brands of sanitary pads were found to have used chlorine in their products, prompting public fears of health risks.
“The statement that the sanitary pad using chlorine is safe to use is contradictory with a regulation issued by the Ministry of Health itself,” said Tulus Abadi, the operational manager at the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI).
“The Ministry is being inconsistent and violating a rule it created.”
On Monday, YLKI reported nine brands of menstrual pads sold in Indonesia, including popular brands like Charm, Laurier and Softex, were found to contain chlorine in their products. Charm topped the list with 54,73 ppm (parts per million) in its products.
The announcement was made after YLKI conducted a series of tests in accredited laboratories. The tests also found that several panty liners produced by the same companies contained chlorine.
YLKI stated that chlorine in the menstrual pads could cause skin rashes, irritation and infertility and in the long-run it could cause cancer.
Responding to the report, the ministry said that sanitary pads in the Indonesian market were safe to use despite the chlorine.
“The fear that chlorine could cause cancer is unreasonable, all those sanitary pads have the license and have passed the safety and quality tests,” said Maura Linda Sitanggang, the ministry’s director general of pharmaceutical and health equipment.
Tulus claimed that by not specifying the maximum level of chlorine contained in sanitary pads, the ministry has sided with the industry instead of consumers.
He said the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the United States regulated that chlorine in sanitary pads should not exceed 0.1 ppm.
YLKI also demanded the National Standardization Agency (BSN) revise the regulation for sanitary pads and ban chlorine use.
YLKI has estimated Indonesian women use 1.4 billion sanitary pads annually.
Responding to the request, BSN said it would immediately review the regulation on the sanitary pads.
“In our Indonesian National Standard [SNI] we did not mention anything about chlorine in the sanitary pads and we will revise it to protect the consumers, producers, laborers and the public,” BSN chairman, Bambang Prasetya said.