ACI Says Research on Triclosan is Distorted

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Analyses of research finding extremely low levels of an antibacterial ingredient in waterways are distorting facts about its safety and effectiveness, according to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI).

Researchers in Minnesota published a paper that describes their finding of the ingredient triclosan in some of the state’s waterways. The ACI says the researchers’ publicity efforts promoting their paper – implying safety concerns about triclosan – are just not borne out by the overall body of research on triclosan. Triclosan is one of the most researched and reviewed chemicals used in healthcare and consumer products.

“We would commend the researchers for being able to find vanishingly low levels of chemicals in the environment, but point out they ignore that there are no negative impacts associated with those trace compounds in the environment,” says Paul DeLeo, ACI senior director of environmental safety.

The statement that “We know that, since 1965, triclosan is the major source of dioxins in all these lakes,” is completely misleading, according to ACI. 

“While it is true that triclosan was invented in the mid-1960s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not issue its first proposed Over-the-Counter (OTC) drug monograph allowing for the ingredient to be used and marketed in antimicrobial washes until 1978,” says DeLeo. “Furthermore, soap companies did not mass market consumer antimicrobial products containing triclosan until 1989. Moreover, the FDA did not approve triclosan to be used in dentifrices until the mid to late 1990s.”

Antibacterial handwash products containing triclosan are regulated in the U.S. by the FDA as OTC drug products and provide a key public health benefit by reducing or eliminating pathogenic bacteria on the skin to a significantly greater degree than plain soap and water.

Triclosan and products containing it have been scrutinized by a number of governmental bodies around the world. It has a long track record of human and environmental safety which is supported by a multitude of science-based, transparent risk analyses. Currently, FDA and Health Canada have publicly indicated that that triclosan does not harm human health.  

Some media reports on the new research have talked about antibiotics being found in Minnesota waterways. There are no antibiotics in soaps and cosmetics. Triclosan is not an antibiotic.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent proliferation of biased and inaccurate information being reported on triclosan,” says DeLeo. “Our overriding concern is the safety of those who use our products. Families can continue to use antibacterial soaps and hygiene products with confidence and use them in everyday situations. These products are safe, effective and they do what they say they do: kill germs that can make us sick.” 

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