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Congresswoman Urges FDA to Ban Triclosan

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2010) House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter and two colleagues asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban triclosan due to the hazards that this chemical poses, including antibiotic resistance and potentially leading to higher health care costs, citing both Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch along with other environmental groups. Rep. Slaughter, joined by Reps. Raul Grijalva and Betty McCollum, delivered the letter Tuesday, November 16, urging FDA to take immediate steps to stop the unnecessary exposure to this chemical in the U.S.

Rep. Slaughter concludes that “triclosan is clearly a threat to our health.” Among the reasons for her conclusion, she lists:
• The presence of triclosan in the human body and its impact on our “body burden;”
• Bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and antibacterial cleaners;
• The potential for endocrine disruption as a result of triclosan bioaccumulation in the body;
• Wastewater contamination;
• The threat of destroying ecological balance, and;
• The fact that triclosan is no more effective than soap and water.

The scientific literature has extensivelly linked the non-medical uses of triclosan to many health and environmental hazards. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for breast cancer. Triclosan is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives also found that triclosan was present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with higher levels in people in their third decade of life and among people with the highest household income.

Triclosan is regulated by both the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); however, Rep. Slaughter focuses on FDA because it oversees its use in personal-care products, medical devices and products that come into contact with food, and triclosan is found in a growing number of these products. Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 78 other groups, has submitted petitions to both the FDA and EPA requiring that they end the use of all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate numerous federal statutes.

Echoing these petitions, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) also submitted letters of concern to both EPA and FDA. In FDA’s response, the agency acknowledged that soaps containing triclosan offer no additional benefit over regular soap and water. FDA stated that “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients” and announced plans to address the use of triclosan in cosmetics or other products. FDA also expressed concern about the development of antibiotic resistance from using antibacterial products and about triclosan’s potential long-term health effects. Despite these concerns, however, the agency did not actually move ahead on the rule-making.

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.


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