EPA Considers Banning Triclosan, A Common Anti-Bacterial in Soap
31 Dec, 2010
If you’re watching your weight, you read labels in the snack aisle.
If you’re watching your hormones, you read labels in the soap and toothpaste aisle. Or at least you should be.
Triclosan is a pesticide that has become ubiquitous in consumer products. It can be found in everything from about 50 percent of all consumer soaps to deodorant, cutting boards and clothing; basically most products labeled “anti-bacterial” or “anti-microbial” (Check the ingredient list).
Unbeknown to most shoppers, triclosan poses serious personal health, public health and environmental concerns. It is an endocrine disruptor which research has linked to increased allergies, cancer and reproductive effects. Doctors worry its increased use is also breeding bacteria with increased resistance to medical antibiotics.
What’s scary is that triclosan is already found in the urine of 75 percent of the population today. It also gets into our rivers and water bodies, throwing aquatic ecosystems out of whack because it is toxic to algae. Even more frustrating, in many cases, triclosan is entirely unnecessary. An expert FDA panel, for example, concluded in 2005 that anti-bacterial soap is no more effective in washing away germs than regular soap and water. Rather, it’s an effectiveness is more as a marketing ploy in an age of the super flu.
While groups have raised these concerns for years, it looks like finally, their concerns are getting traction with federal regulators.
Almost a year ago, 86 groups, led by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, filed a petition with U.S. EPA asking the agency (which shares regulatory oversight with FDA and the Consumer Products Safety Commission) to consider banning the anti-bacterial agent for non-medical uses. While both agencies do testing and regulate marketing claims, neither restrict the use of triclosan in consumer products.
Recently, the agency finally decided to consider their request. Right now, it has opened up the request for comments from the public.