Peter Kent, minister of environment, and Leona Aglukkaq, minister of Health, announced that the government of Canada completed its preliminary assessment of triclosan under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), 1999 and the Pest Controls Products Act.
The review concludes that triclosan is not harmful to human health, but in significant amounts can cause harm to the environment. A notice and summary will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part 1 on March 31, 2012.
"Based on environmental concerns identified in this assessment, the government will initiate consultations with industry on the potential for voluntary reductions in the use of triclosan in products," says Kent.
Triclosan is used as a material preservative and antimicrobial in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products, including non-prescription drugs. It has been proven to provide health benefits in some products, such as its use in toothpaste to protect against gingivitis. Triclosan is also used as a material preservative in the manufacture of textiles, leather, paper, plastic and rubber to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus and mildew, and to prevent odors.
Triclosan was assessed for health and environmental risks as part of the Chemicals Management Plan. The preliminary assessment shows that current levels of triclosan in products such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap do not pose a risk to human health and Canadians can continue to safely use these products. However as toothpastes, soaps and other items are rinsed off and washed down the drain, the amount of triclosan that is released into the environment can affect plants and animals in lakes, streams and rivers.
"This preliminary assessment confirms that Canadians can continue to safely use products such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap containing triclosan," says Aglukkaq. "The assessment re-affirms that the guidance we have in place on maximum levels of triclosan in a variety of products help protect human health."
The health assessment took into account a review of biomonitoring data for Canadians, as well as data from the United States. Human biomonitoring provides an estimate of people's exposure to chemicals.
The Canadian government also took into consideration concerns that triclosan is linked to antibacterial resistance. Based on available information, there is no clear link between use of products containing triclosan and antibacterial resistance.