Triclosan is widely used in soaps, body washes, toothpaste and cosmetics By Lisa Wade McCormick - ConsumerAffairs.Com - April 8, 2010
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the agency is reviewing a chemical used in scores of consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.
The chemical is called triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics. The Environmental Protection Agency registered the chemical, which is also used in clothes, kitchenware, and toys, as a pesticide in 1969.
The FDA said triclosan is not known to be hazardous to people. “But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review,” the agency said. “In light of questions raised by recent animal studies of triclosan, FDA is reviewing all of the available evidence on this ingredient’s safety in consumer products.”
Federal regulators today also said they do not have evidence that triclosan used in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any more health benefits or protection from germs than regular soap and water.
The FDA, however, said it doesn’t have “sufficient safety evidence” to recommend that consumers stop using products made with triclosan.
But a national environmental action group today called on the FDA to stop the sale of products made with the chemical.
“Consumers in the United States spend almost $1 billion per year on ‘antibacterial’ soaps and other products, often motivated by the notion that these products will protect their families from harmful germs and illnesses,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said. “But in fact, these products are no more effective than regular soap and water for preventing illness, and they contain chemicals that can actually harm our health and the environment. Up to 75 percent of liquid soaps, as well as bar soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, cleansing lotions, acne creams, and wipes contain triclosan or triclocarban -- chemicals marketed as reducing the number of bacteria or ‘germs.’
“The FDA needs to take action now to stop the continued sale of ineffective and potentially unsafe antimicrobial chemicals in household products,” the organization added.
The FDA confirmed that animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. “However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans,” the agency said. “Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.”
The FDA referred to a 1997 study on triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste. “The evidence showed that triclosan in this product was effective in preventing gingivitis,” the agency said.
But that evidence doesn’t exist for other consumer product, the FDA noted. “At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water,” the agency said.
Consumers who are worried about the safety of triclosan should use regular soap and water instead of soaps and body washes made with the chemical, the FDA said. Consumers should also check products’ labels to see if they contain triclosan.
“We are engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of the safety of triclosan in FDA-regulated products,” the agency said. “We also have partnered with other federal agencies (like the EPA) to study the effects of this substance on animal and environmental health.”
The FDA said it will “communicate” its findings on triclosan in the spring of 2011.
List of products
According to BeyondPesticides.org, triclosan is found in the following products Soaps:
• Supre® Café Bronzer™ • TotalSkinCare Makeup Kit • Garden Botanika® Powder Foundation • Mavala Lip Base • Jason Natural Cosmetics • Blemish Cover Stick • Movate® Skin Litening Cream HQ • Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb • Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss • Dazzle
• Old Spice High Endurance Stick Deodorant • Right Guard Sport Deodorant • Queen Helene® Tea Trea Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant • Nature De France Le Stick Natural Stick Deodorant • DeCleor Deodorant Stick • Epoch® Deodorant with Citrisomes • X Air Maximum Strength Deodorant
Other Personal Care Products:
• Gillette® Complete Skin Care MultiGel Aerosol Shave Gel • Murad Acne Complex® Kit® • Diabet-x™ Cream • T.Taio™ sponges and wipes • Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel
• SyDERMA® Skin Protectant plus First Aid Antiseptic • Solarcaine® • First Aid Medicated Spray; Nexcare™ First Aid • Skin Crack Care • First Aid/Burn Cream • HealWell® Night Splint • 11-1X1: Universal Cervical Collar with Microban
• Farberware® Microban Steakknife Set and Cutting Boards • Franklin Machine Products FMP Ice Cream Scoop SZ 20 Microban • Hobart Semi-Automatic Slicer • Chix® Food Service Wipes with Microban • Compact Web Foot® Wet Mop Heads
• Fellowes Cordless Microban Keyboard and Microban Mouse Pad
• Merrell Shoes • Sabatier Chef's Apron • Dickies Socks • Fruit of the Loom Socks • Biofresh® Socks
• Playskool® • Stack 'n Scoop Whale • Rockin' Radio • Hourglass • Sounds Around Driver • Roll 'n' Rattle Ball • Animal Sounds Phone • Busy Beads Pal • Pop 'n' Spin Top • Lights 'n' Surprise Laptop
• Bionare® Cool Mist Humidifier • Microban® All Weather Reinforced Hose • Thomasville® Furniture • Deciguard AB Ear Plugs • Bauer® 5000 Helmet • Aquatic Whirlpools • Miller Paint Interior Paint • QVC® Collapsible 40-Can Cooler • Holmes Foot Buddy™ Foot Warmer • Blue Mountain Wall Coverings • California Paints® • EHC AMRail Escalator Handrails • Dupont™ Air Filters • Durelle™ Carpet Cushions • Advanta One Laminate Floors • San Luis Blankets • J Cloth® towels • JERMEX mops