Triclosan Trespass October 18 2011, 0 Comments

Janelle Sorensen
Monday, July 28, 2008

The US EPA recently released their latest draft assessment of triclosan, a pesticide approved for use in 140 different types of everyday products. The inconclusive report demonstrates how little we know about triclosan, and refuses to address its potential impacts fetuses and children.

We're used to seeing triclosan in certain products like antibacterial soaps, but it is also found in things you’d never expect, like playing cards and toothpaste. While antibacterials gave parents a great sense of relief when they were first created, over time we have learned some important things:

1. The US FDA has found that antibacterial soaps are not any more effective than regular soap and water.
2. The American Medical Association worries that antibacterials may lead to bacterial resistance to antibiotics and recommends that people do not use triclosan in their homes.
3. Triclosan has never been tested for potential health impacts on fetal and child development, but it’s showing up in breast milk and has been found to be extremely toxic to aquatic life.

The US EPA recently released their latest draft assessment of triclosan and, according to a report by the EWG, it is plagued with gaps and inconsistencies and continues to ignore potential impacts on fetuses and children. The EWG outlines the major flaws in the EPA’s draft safety assessment. They are stunningly extensive:

• The EPA did not take into consideration potential risks for fetal and child development.
• As a rule of thumb, our nation’s pesticide law mandates an extra margin of safety for children. The EPA triclosan assessment eliminates the standard ten-fold margin based on the supposition that children do not need extra protection from triclosan.
• The EPA report lacks full assessment of inhalation risks, cumulative risks, and cancer risks, as well as environmental risks.
• There is no examination of triclosan’s more toxic breakdown by-products.
• They neglect to examine risks associated with antimicrobial resistance.

Triclosan persists in the environment, breaks down into highly toxic metabolites, contaminates people’s bodies, and poses health risks we barely understand. Given the risks and its demonstrated ineffectiveness as an antibacterial, the EWG recommends the following actions:

• A ban on triclosan in products used at home, in line with the conclusion of the American Medical Association that common antimicrobials for which resistance has been demonstrated should "be discontinued in consumer products unless data emerge that conclusively show that such resistance has no effect on public health and that such products are effective at preventing infection."
• For remaining non-consumer uses, the EPA must fully assess the safety of triclosan and its breakdown products for the fetus, infant, child, and other vulnerable populations.
• Manufacturers should curtail their use of this toxic, persistent chemical in consumer products, voluntarily in advance of mandatory restrictions.
• Consumers should avoid the use of triclosan-laden products whenever possible by avoiding antibacterial soaps, avoiding personal care products that contain triclosan and triclocarban, and avoiding antibacterials products like toothbrushes, toys, and cutting boards that may be labeled “antibacterial,” "fights germs," "protection against mold," or make claims such as “odor-fighting” or “keeps food fresher, longer.”

Read more about it:
A new study by UC Davis researchers calls into question the widespread use of triclosan (and its cousin triclocarbon) as they found that triclocarban disrupts reproductive hormone activity and triclosan interferes a type of cell signaling that occurs in brain, heart and other cells.
A recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology examined the toxicity of triclosan’s breakdown by-products which include known carcinogens, as well as its persistence in sediment. Some of the samples they took were over 30 year old sediments which still had lingering triclosan.
Upon the closure of the public comment period for the Draft EPA Assessment of triclosan, dozens of public health and environmental groups from the U.S. and Canada urge the EPA to use its authority to cancel the non-medical uses of the antibacterial chemical triclosan, widely found in consumer products and shown to threaten health and the environment.