Triclosan has been used for decades as an antibacterial or antimicrobial, though when it was first approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it was registered as a pesticide. That was 1969. In 2008 it was reviewed again, and it remains on record only as a pesticide due to its toxicology and chemistry. The EPA actually has a listing for possible damaging effects from the handling of pesticides (including triclosan) in the long term. They include paralysis, sterility, and damage to the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. Why does this matter to you? Because youve been brushing your teeth and washing your hands with it for years, thats why. However, with new complaints on record, the EPA may actually be listening this time.
Recently, the EPA received a petition from a collective 82 environmental and public health groups to regulate triclosan because of the significant risks to human health and the environment that it poses. Triclosan is not scheduled for another review for another 10 years, but because of this petition the EPA is taking public comments into consideration through February, 2011, at which time they will begin an early review.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates triclosans use in consumer products such as soaps and sanitizers, while the EPA handles its uses in pesticides, this petition encourages the EPA to use their authority to impose harsher restrictions on its overall use. Not only are there damaging effects from its handling and use by humans, but its effect on the environment can be equally staggering. In fact, as triclosan breaks down it actually becomes forms of carcinogens and dioxins. This all traces back to human usage, as it ends up going down the drains in the form of soaps and other cleaners before it breaks down to this level.
Olga Naidenko, PhD, who is a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group had this to say: Triclosan is a potent antimicrobial chemical that has a legitimate and necessary role in health care settings. However, overuse of any antibacterial substance when not absolutely necessary carries the risk of development of resistant bacteria. In addition, theres no research showing that triclosan containing products clean better than plain soap and water.
You can leave your feedback for the EPA at the website www.regulations.gov under the docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-054.