Test results confirm mold on tampon

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 14 at 1:21 AM

DALLAS – Test results confirm the black substance found on a Saginaw mother’s new tampon was indeed mold.

Friday, the manufacturer, Kimberly-Clark, identified it as Cladosporium, a common mold often found on fruits and vegetables.

"I was pretty sure it was mold, and it looks like it was," said Danielle Parr, who discovered the mold by chance when opening a new Kotex tampon last month. "I’m glad to know what it really is."

The company admits health risks could include "localized irritation, swelling or allergic reaction" and, more rarely, "a risk for serious infection."
 
While the mold is gross, it’s likely not very dangerous, said Dr. Jay Staub, a Dallas gynecologist.

"You don’t want any contaminants on a tampon," he said, but "based on what I’ve read about it, unless a woman was allergic to [the mold], it would not cause any problem whatsoever."

He adds the vagina has defense systems that can kill many microorganisms.

"The immune system works very efficiently at getting rid of things like that," he said.

It’s little comfort to Parr. Her discovery got national attention last month after her story appeared on News 8. Her blog, parrforthecourse.com, which shows photos of the moldy tampon, has received more than 370,000 views.

Parr, 23, said the tampon was the only moldy one in a box of 36. The stay-at-home mom had bought the box just a few weeks earlier. She says she only noticed the mold because she unwrapped the tampon too quickly, causing part of it to come out of the plastic applicator.

"Otherwise I would have never known," she said. "It’s not something you feel like you need to inspect."

Irving-based Kimberly-Clark admits mold rarely grows on some of its tampons - no more than one for every 50 million tampons made. Company spokesman Bob Brand said Kimberly-Clark took Parr’s complaint very seriously.

"We test finished tampon products for the presence of mold prior to releasing products for purchase," Brand wrote in a statement to News 8. "We have found nothing in our investigation that would suggest a systemic problem within Kimberly-Clark’s manufacturing process."

He added it’s impossible to tell the cause of the mold.

In November, Kimberly-Clark recalled about 1,400 cases of Kotex tampons. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tampon manufacturers, said "the tampons were manufactured with a raw material contaminated with a bacterium, Enterobacter sakazakii, which may cause health risks, including vaginal infections, urinary tract infection (UTIs), pelvic inflammatory disease or infections that can be life-threatening."

The recall affected some Texas stores. Parr’s tampon, however, was not in the recalled batch.

Parr said she simply hopes to warn other women.

"I’m just glad people are aware to be looking," she said. "I definitely won’t be using them without inspecting them first."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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