Senator has long called for banning triclosan due to public health risks


Washington (December 20, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule that over-the-counter health care antiseptic products such as patient skin preparations, surgical hand scrubs and health care personnel hand washes containing triclosan, along with 23 other chemicals, can no longer be sold. In September 2016, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in consumer hand and body washes, and today finalized a rule banning the use of this chemical in other over the counter antiseptic products intended for health care settings. The FDA is giving manufacturers one year to reformulate or remove these products from the market and after then will require any products containing triclosan, or the other banned ingredients, to receive a new drug approval by the FDA.


“For decades, triclosan has been marketed and sold as a miracle ingredient to prevent everything from disease transmission to preventing dirty socks from smelling,” said Senator Markey. “Today’s announcement from the FDA brings us one step closer to closing the regulatory black hole where triclosan has been hiding. I am pleased that the FDA has taken the action to ban triclosan from health care antiseptic products. Now we must extend this ban to all over-the-counter antiseptic rubs and products intended for use by or on children.


“Washing with plain soap and water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick. We do not need triclosan in our everyday personal care products to prevent the spreading of germs to others. We must do everything we can to restrict the use of this ineffective and potentially dangerous chemical that continues to pollute our bodies.”


Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical linked to endocrine disruption found in a wide range of products, including clothes, toys, food packaging 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 exposure to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, a growing public health concern.

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 2012 calling on the agency to finalize its three decades-overdue regulations to curb the use of the chemical in consumer products. In 2010, Senator 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.”