The National Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the FDA due to their lack of regulation for the two chemicals triclosan and triclocarban. The chemicals are found in many antibacterial soaps.
The US Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing Triclosan,”We are engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of the safety of Triclosan in FDA-regulated products.” According to the NRDC the problem is that the FDA has been far too slow to come to a conclusion, “Three decades of delay is outrageous, FDA needs to issue a final rule on triclosan and triclocarban now, and that rule should ban both chemicals in hand soaps,” said Avinash Kar, an NRDC lawyer.
Both chemicals can be absorbed into the body through contact with skin. The NRDC press release includes a rather startling statistic, “The growing use of these chemicals in products has led to widespread residues in the environment and in people; recent bio-monitoring results found residues of triclosan in 75 percent of Americans over the age of six.” A recent Washington Post article used a similar statistic, “… taking a fresh look at triclosan, which is so ubiquitous that is found in the urine of 75 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
How could it get into so many people? Triclosan is not limited to use in soaps. It is also in deodorants, and toothpastes. Even some kitchen cutting boards have it using the brand name MicroBan. That’s right, if you have a cutting board containing Triclosan, it could be getting into your food. The Environmental Working Group says of the chemical, “Lab studies link triclosan to cancer, developmental defects, and liver and inhalation toxicity.”
Last year the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products stated, “the continued use of Triclosan as a preservative at the current concentration limit of maximum 0.3 percent in all cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer because of the magnitude of the aggregate exposure.”
Triclosan does not just wind up in human bodies; it also can be found in the natural environment. An Australian government report commented about the potential harm Triclosan can cause to the environment, “The widespread use of triclosan provides a number of pathways for the chemical to enter the environment, and laboratory tests have shown it to be toxic to aquatic species.”
In January of 2010, Congressman Edward Markey urged the FDA and EPA to regulate both Triclosan and triclocarban. If you want information about alternatives to potentially harmful deodorants, Care2 has a recent article on the subject.