For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-Federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead-poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
Published: February 24, 2018
Updated: July 24, 2023
When tested with an XRF instrument [tested in 2018], the Diva brand menstrual cup pictured here (in white silicone) had the following readings:
- Lead (Pb): non-detect
- Arsenic (As): non-detect
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect
- Cadmium (Cd): 17 +/- 4 ppm
To our knowledge, there has been no change made to the silicone formulation for this [or other similar products] since we first conducted this testing and published these test results in February of 2018.
Important Points Regarding The Above Test Results:
- Cadmium is well-documented to be a known carcinogen (wikipedia link with more info.)
- The level of Cadmium found in this product is a finding consistent with most of the many silicone products we have tested.
- This level of Cadmium (under 40 ppm) is considered to be a trace contaminant (not an added ingredient) in the product – contamination likely either resulting from Cadmium-containing colorants used in the material, and/or contamination imparted through some step in the manufacturing process (including possible contact with Cadmium-plated manufacturing components).
- This item was tested multiple times to confirm these test results; all Cadmium results for the item pictured were within this same range – 13 to 21 ppm.
- The amount of Cadmium found in this product is at a level that has been determined to be a safe level of Cadmium by all current standards for consumer goods (U.S. and European).
- Click here to see all of the Lead Safe Mama menstrual cup related posts & articles
The questions that were debated/discussed on the Lead Safe Mama, LLC Facebook page about these findings when these test results were originally published (see embedded Facebook post for this item below):
- Why do regulatory standards allow for any amount of Cadmium (even at non-additive / low level / trace contamination levels) in any medical grade silicone items? [What are the standards for Medical Grade silicone that Cadmium is allowed to be a trace contaminant?]
- Is anyone (besides us – friends/fans/followers here on Lead Safe Mama dot com and on our social media channels) questioning/researching the impacts (if any) of chronic exposure to trace/low-level cadmium in silicone items, especially items like menstrual cups and baby bottle nipples? [The answer to that question appears to still be “no” – in the 5+ years since these test results were originally published!]
Please note the following important additional points:
- The levels of Cadmium found in this item (and similar items reported on this website) have been detected using an XRF instrument.
- XRF testing is distinctly different than other types of testing that may have been done for the item to meet Federal regulatory standards for this class of item.
- XRF test results indicate total content of metals, not leach levels (extractability) of those metals.
- The country with the strictest regulations for total Cadmium content in consumer goods is Denmark. Denmark considers any consumer good to be safe by all standards (standards for Cadmium content specifically) as long as the total Cadmium content of each component of the item is below 75 ppm.
- In the United States – there is still currently no comprehensive Federal regulatory statute for Cadmium content across all types of products. Instead, there are only a few, limited specific regulatory standards for specific product categories with specific intended consumer groups (for example, total Cadmium content limits have been set for “Children’s Jewelry”). You can read more about those standards on this link.
- In the U.S., the State with the strictest limits on total Cadmium content across all consumer goods is Washington State. Washington State requires that total Cadmium content in consumer goods (including dishware) must be below 40 ppm .
- When the Cadmium content of any item is lower than the limits for Denmark and Washington State it is considered (by us, here at Lead Safe Mama, LLC) to be safe by the strictest standards currently available worldwide.
You may ask: “But – I don’t understand. You said it is “safe by all standards”! Are these Cadmium findings a problem? Or not?”
In spite of the above noted regulations that have set the parameters for the safety of the presence of Cadmium in these applications (standards for various silicone items in general & medical-grade products more specifically), I still think that we (as informed consumers) need to keep an eye out for any future scientific studies that might indicate possible health impacts arising from persistent exposure to the trace levels of Cadmium typically found in silicone products.
- Being on the lookout for new relevant scientific studies in this area is especially important given the degree to which so many Americans have become reliant on silicone products in recent years.
- Many parents have been sucked in to believing the industry hype that silicone is a “safer, non-toxic choice” (safer and less toxic than other plastics – for example) and with their family’s health in mind have been intentionally heavily integrating the use of silicone products into their daily life for countless different applications (ranging from menstrual cups, to bakeware, to toys, baby teethers & baby bottle nipples).
- Given the unknowns in this equation (even though silicone items typically contain “very low” levels of Cadmium) as a rule I personally choose to not use silicone items in my home for my family – especially for items used on a daily basis (with very few exceptions).
Separately, it is important to note that there are some (few, but some) examples of silicone products that have consisently tested negative for trace Cadmium — demonstrating that this is obviously possible! In light of that, I think it is appropriate that our attention – as consumers and as advocates for consumer goods safety – might be best directed at efforts to encourage all manufacturers of silicone products to find ways to ensure that their silicone products are Cadmium-free. If some manufacturers are able to make Cadmium-free silicone (as our testing has demonstrated they are) – this should be the standard rather than the exception — especially given the known toxicity of Cadmium.
Additional Reading That May Be Of Interest: Menstrual Cup Testing, etc.
- XRF Test Results For an Eva Cup Brand Menstrual Cup (Green Silicone)
- XRF Test Results For a Luna Cup Brand Menstrual Cup (Purple Silicone)
- XRF Test Results For a Lena Cup Brand Menstrual Cup (Pink Silicone)
- XRF Test Results For a Lena Cup Brand Menstrual Cup (Blue Silicone)
- This is the category of articles here on LeadSafeMama dot com that has the tag “silicone with trace Cadmium”.
- Examples of silicone products that have tested negative for Cadmium.
This information is not shared with you to frighten you (again, these are trace levels, and currently deemed “safe” by all standards; (as with all our consumer goods testing) we share this data so consumers can have access to independent science to help make better-informed decisions for themselves and their families. Some who read this article may feel comfortable with the current regulatory standards, and may choose to continue using this product (and similar products). Some may choose to no longer use this product (and similar products) as a result of this information. It is especially important to make informed choices for products that are inserted in your body (including your mouth for that matter!) as well as for products that come into regular contact with food. It is also important to have a healthy degree of skepticism (especially skepticism of a manufacturer’s claims or an industry’s claims) in evaluating mass manufactured products that you may use on a regular basis.
One possible hypothetical example: given Cadmium is a known carcinogen, and say you are a cervical cancer survivor…in light of the presence of Cadmium in this product, and the fact that it is placed right up against your cervix for extended periods of time (in a moist environment, at 98.6 degrees) – you might choose to “err on the side of caution”, and no longer use menstrual cups.
It is not my job to make that type of decision for anyone — just to help support you in making informed choices based on the best and latest science available (including – to some degree – imparting an understanding of relevant scientific inquiries and studies that have yet to be undertaken). Here’s a link with more information about the approach and intention behind this work.
Tamara, what do you use?
Separately, as I expect most of those who are reading this article are women, and I also expect that you might likely be wondering what menstrual products I use (or have used) I will say this: I have been very fortunate in this department. I got my period first about 43 years ago when I was 10 years old. Since then – while I have suffered ongoing persistent extreme pain with my menstrual period and related “female” complications (including ovarian cysts with multiple surgeries, cervical cancer & related surgery, miscarriage, endometriosis and more “fun stuff” along those lines) – I almost never had a heavy flow, and did not require menstrual products, per se [I’m what has been called a “free bleeder” – not particularly based on political considerations, but simply out of convenience – with very little impact as a result of that choice, since I bled so little during my period.] I did own three handmade fabric (cotton and bamboo) reusable / washable menstrual pads [that a friend made for me as a gift about 15 years ago… which I kept on hand for “emergencies”], but that’s about it!
Because I am also a hardcore environmental activist [and have been my whole life, as a result of my age and upbringing] I was also never comfortable purchasing (or even using) disposable menstrual products, because of the plastics, and chemicals in most of those products (and in their packaging). That said, those days are done for me (it’s been about a year or so – possibly longer… I lost track) so you may want to look to someone else for product advice in this area. But if I had a daughter or granddaughter I would likely recommend plastics-free (and silicone-free) products made of organic, untreated natural materials (if products were required due to that’s person’s volume of flow) and I would recommend against any inserted products. [Here’s a nice little “wikihow” article on how to make your own reusable pads!]
Lead Safe Mama, LLC