FDA finally bans triclosan, but only in soaps

triclosanTriclosan isn’t effective


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began drafting guidelines for the use of the popular antibacterial, triclosan, about 40 years ago.

Two years ago they announced they were ready to implement some much-needed oversight of this chemical. They asked the manufacturers of soaps and body washes to provide more evidence of both its effectiveness and safety.

Well, those companies came up short. Last week the FDA made its final decision to ban triclosan and some other chemicals used in “antibacterial” soaps.

Manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illnesses and the spread of certain infections.

I’ve posted before that plain soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the least expensive and most effective products for killing germs.

Related post: Hand Washing 101

And it might not be safe

Cost and effectiveness aside, the FDA also cautioned about the safety of triclosan and the other chemicals.

The manufacturers haven’t proven that those ingredients are safe for daily use over a long period of time.

Triclosan is an incredibly common ingredient found in thousands of products besides soap, such as toothpaste, deodorant, fabric, toys and cleaning products, to name just a few. It’s so common, in fact, that it can be detected in the urine of 75% of people tested. Yuck!

Triclosan has already been banned from many products in Canada and Europe. There is evidence that it not only interferes with hormonal function, but also contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

So why isn’t triclosan being banned from other products? I don’t know, but I’ve refused for a long time to use toothpastes that contain triclosan.

Related post: What’s in your toothpaste?

Colgate Total, for example, is marketed as reducing gum disease (gingivitis). It costs a lot more than regular fluoride toothpaste (I like plain Crest paste), and I doubt any benefit outweighs the safety risk or extra cost.

As one horrified consumer remarked after learning the FDA had banned triclosan in hand soaps but not toothpaste,

“It doesn’t make sense. You can’t put it on your skin, but you can put it in your mouth?”

My thoughts exactly.

Soap manufacturers have another year to remove triclosan from their products. Until then, if you want to avoid that chemical or any of the others recently banned by the FDA, read the product’s label before you buy it.


Frugal Nurse


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