May 3, 2013

FDA investigating common chemical in antibacterial soaps

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - It's a chemical that's been in U.S. households for more than 40 years.

click image to enlarge

Triclosan, an ingredient in cleaners like this bottle of Dawn, is found in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps.

The Associated Press

But federal health regulators are just now deciding whether triclosan -- the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S. -- is ineffective, or worse, harmful.

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to deliver a review this year of whether triclosan is safe.

The ruling, which will determine whether triclosan continues to be used in household cleaners, could have implications for a $1 billion industry that includes hundreds of antibacterial products from toothpaste to toys.

The agency's review comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers, consumer advocates and others who are concerned about the safety of triclosan. Recent studies of triclosan in animals have led scientists to worry that it could increase the risk of infertility, early puberty and other hormone-related problems in humans.

"To me it looks like the risks outweigh any benefit associated with these products right now," said Allison Aiello, professor at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. "At this point, it's just looking like a superfluous chemical."

The concerns over triclosan offer a sobering glimpse at a little-known fact: Many chemicals used in everyday household products have never been formally approved by U.S. health regulators.

That's because many germ-killing chemicals were developed decades ago, before there were laws requiring scientific review of cleaning ingredients.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)