In 2016 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action to remove the germ-fighting ingredient triclosan from a number of soaps and body washes, but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says the FDA did not go far enough.
In a lengthy report the EWG, an environmental research and advocacy group, says triclosan should be removed from all cosmetics, cleaners, and household products, Medline Plus reports.
Triclosan is found in thousands of products ranging from soap, body wash, shampoo, cosmetics and toothpaste to household items like utensils, furniture and toys. The chemicals are intended to kill germs and help reduce the spread of illness and infection.
National law firm Parker Waichman has investigated many situations where individuals are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals in products they use every day and in the building materials and furnishings in their homes, schools, and work places.
Antimicrobial Additives May Harm Human Health
The EWG says evidence has shown that antimicrobial additives like triclosan not only fail to kill bacteria, but may also harm human health. The coalition is urging much stricter limits on use of such chemicals. David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG, signed the 25-page statement calling for a full triclosan ban. The statement was published in the June 20 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
In a 2016 statement about the triclosan ban in soaps and body washes, the FDA said manufacturers “will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,”
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “the FDA has no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water.” The FDA says, “Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs.” People who favor the use of triclosan and related anti-bacterial chemicals point to the need to control the spread of infection in schools, child care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and public places.
Triclosan in Household Products
Certain products containing triclosan—cosmetics, toothpaste, soaps and shampoos—fall under FDA regulations. But items like clothing, cutting boards, blankets, mattresses, bathtubs, furniture and toys are not FDA-regulated. There is no limit on triclosan and triclocarban in these products. Andrews said the American public “has been led to believe that antimicrobial products would make us safer and healthier,” but evidence suggests the opposite may be true.
The FDA says there is evidence that triclosan may cause levels of thyroid hormone to drop, lead to antibiotic resistance, and increase the risk of skin cancer. EWG wants triclosan and related chemicals to be listed on the labels of all consumer products where they are used, and the organization wants the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict unnecessary use, Andrews said. The EWG says anti-bacterials should only be used when they provide a proven health benefit, such as in some clinical settings.
The American Cleaning Institute dismissed the EWG statement, saying concerns about triclosan and triclocarban have already been addressed. The institute called the EWG document “outdated” and said it does not reflect the current science and regulations. Brian Sansoni, vice president of sustainability initiatives with the institute said manufacturers of antibacterial soaps had begun phasing out the ingredients even before the FDA ban. Manufacturers are using other germ-fighting ingredients and are submitting updated scientific data about their safety and efficiency, as requested by the FDA, Sansoni said. He said consumers can continue to use products containing antimicrobials “with confidence” that they will help protect against the spread of infectious diseases in “homes, hospitals, health care settings, offices, schools, child care centers and many other commercial settings.”
The FDA acknowledges that research has shown some benefit from triclosan, for example, triclosan in toothpastes helps control the gum disease gingivitis. But, the FDA adds, there is no evidence that soaps with triclosan have stronger antibacterial properties than ordinary soap. Nor has the FDA found any proof that triclosan improves antiseptic performance.
Need Legal Help Regarding for Those Who May Have Been Harmed by Triclosan?
If you or someone you know has experienced a drop in thyroid hormone or has experienced other symptoms related to triclosan in household products, the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can advise you about your legal rights. For a free, no-obligation case consultation, fill out the contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).