Summaries of a study on the antibacterial ingredient triclosan grossly misrepresent what the research actually found, according to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI). Independent scientists at the UK-based Science Media Centre also took issue with some of conclusions of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which claim that triclosan could negatively affect human health.
"The fact is that overdosing mice with triclosan at levels they would never likely come in contact with does not represent a realistic circumstance for humans," says Dr. Paul DeLeo, ACI's associate vice president of environmental Ssfety. "We've known for decades that the mouse is not a good model for human risk assessment of triclosan."
Dr. Nick Plant, a professor of molecular toxicology at the University of Surrey observes, "…the authors study only mice, and draw conclusion only on mice. Their comments on human health are very circumspect. As the authors state, it is difficult to assess if the dose that they use in mice is relevant to human exposure levels, but at a simple examination it appears to be much higher than I would expect to see in a human. This further complicates extrapolation to the human situation as we are not comparing equivalent exposures… it is not valid to state that the effect of triclosan in mice will occur in humans as well."
Dr. Oliver A.H. Jones, a lecturer in analytical chemistry at RMIT University Melbourne: says, "The results of this study are certainly interesting but I do not think they are a cause for concern for human health. Firstly the mice used in the study were primed with a tumor promoting chemical before being exposed to triclosan (which humans would not be) and the concentrations of triclosan used were much higher than those found in the environment."
"Consumers and the research community at-large are ill-served by over-the-top and distorted headlines and hype that accompany this research," says DeLeo. "Consumers need to know that antibacterial soap ingredients like triclosan have been extensively researched, reviewed and regulated for decades. Antibacterial soaps continue to play an important role in everyday handwashing routines in homes and hospitals alike."
In comments submitted earlier this year to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety of triclosan, the ACI wrote: "Triclosan-containing consumer antiseptic wash products play a beneficial role in the daily hygiene routines of millions of people throughout the U.S. and worldwide. They have been and are used safely and effectively in homes, hospitals, schools and workplaces every single day. Furthermore, triclosan and products containing it are regulated by a number of governmental bodies around the world and have a long track record of human and environmental safety which is supported by a multitude of science-based, transparent risk analyses."
Source: American Cleaning Institute,