Markey Applauds Triclosan Ban in Antibacterial Hand Soaps

Senator has long called for banning triclosan in consumer products

Washington (September 2, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement today after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule that over-the-counter consumer antiseptic wash products containing triclosan can no longer be marketed. Triclosan is a common antimicrobial chemical linked to endocrine disruption often found in children’s toys, food contact products and soap. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and FDA have acknowledged the potential for triclosan to interfere with the body’s thyroid hormone, which is important for brain development and function, particularly in children. Other studies have linked triclosan to disrupting other hormone functions important for fertility and puberty and experts have warned that exposure may promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics.   Although the FDA first began developing regulations for consumer soaps and hand sanitizers containing triclosan more than 40 years ago, it only finalized these regulations today.

“Triclosan existed in a regulatory black hole, despite serious concerns about its impact on public health, especially that of developing children,” said Senator Markey. “I am pleased that the FDA has taken the action to ban triclosan from antibacterial hand soaps, and now we must ban it from all products intended for use by children and products intended to come into contact with food. From toothpaste to toys, we should restrict the use of this ineffective and potentially dangerous chemical that continues to pollute our bodies.”

In light of mounting scientific evidence that has shown triclosan has the ability to damage the human endocrine system, in the House of Representatives Senator Markey wrote the FDA in 2010 and 2011 calling on the agency to finalize its three decades-overdue regulations to curb the use of the chemical in consumer products. In 2010, Markey wrote to major manufacturers urging them to a voluntarily stop using the chemical, which was estimated to be in approximately 75 percent of all antibacterial consumer soaps as well as a wide variety of other consumer products, including some marketed specifically for children. In response to these letters, some companies, including Acme United and Reckitt Benckiser, announced that they were discontinuing the use of triclosan in certain consumer products, such as knives, scissors, pencil sharpeners, and face washes. Other companies including Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble followed in removing triclosan from personal care and cleaning products. These letters were sent one week after the FDA issued a consumer advisory about the use of the chemical, stating that “triclosan added to soaps and body washes provide no more health benefits than plain soap and water.”

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