August 28, 2017 12:50
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Friday said it will after all inspect all sanitary pad brands as criticism of the slow government response to a contamination scare grew.
The ministry will check all 896 sanitary pads made or imported by 56 companies over the past three years, focusing on 10 dangerous volatile organic compounds including benzene. It hopes to be done by the end of September.
The ministry will also examine diapers for similar harmful substances.
The Korean Women's Environmental Network has already tested 10 disposable sanitary pads and found that Klean Nara's Lilian range, which is at the heart of the scandal, emitted the highest amounts of VOCs. The other products also discharged smaller amounts of VOCs. Benzene was found in three products, but the names of the pads were not revealed.
The ministry said there is currently no standard for how much VOCs in sanitary pads are dangerous. Doctors warn that long-term exposure can cause reduced fertility or irregular menstrual cycles.
Manufacturers are required to disclose only a limited range of substances contained in their pads, including a fluorescent brightening agent and acidic and alkali pigments. There are no checks on other substances, and it may be difficult to punish Klean Nara and any other violators even if it is confirmed that their products are toxic.
In June last year the government relaxed restrictions on a range of drug-store products like sanitary pads.
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