(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2008) Despite unanimous criticism of its preliminary risk assessment by the environmental community, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its completed the Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) for the controversial antibacterial triclosan, concludes that all uses, with the exception of the paint use, are eligible for reregistation. Triclosan, which is expected to reach a market value of $930 million by 2009, has exploded on to the marketplace in recent years, growing 5 percent annually, in products from soaps, cosmetic and personal care products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, to plastic toys and textiles. EPA believes that levels of concern for triclosan have not been exceeded even though this pervasive chemical is shown to threaten human health and the environment. The agency has opened a public comment period on the RED which closes on December 29. 2008.
Triclosan accumulates in fatty tissue and has been found in breast milk and urine. It has also been linked to hormone disruption and has contaminated most of the nation’s waterways. Its degradates are also known to be persistent, to bioaccumulate and interfere with the hormone system. Triclosan has also been implicated in antibacterial and antibiotic resistance, which has severe consequences in medical settings. In spite of these serious effects, EPA continues to allow triclosan uses in a wide range of products under its jurusdiction including toys, clothing, countertops and plastics.
In the RED document, EPA acknowledges that triclosan interacts with androgen and estrogen receptors and has effects on thyroid homeostasis in rat studies. The agency also mentions that it is aware of research looking at triclosan’s link to antibacterial and antibiotic resistance. However, the agency continues to be complacent on these serious impacts on public health by stating that it will continue to “monitor the science.” EPA also continues to ignore triclosan’s degradates and has once again failed to conduct any risk assessments for these hazardous chemicals. Methyl triclosan, a degradation product of triclosan, has been found to accumulate in fish, while DCP (2,4-dichlorophenol), another degradation product, is listed as a potential endocrine disruptor by the European Union and is an EPA priority pollutant. EPA also continues to ignore triclosan residues in fish and drinking water.
In addition, much of the triclosan RED is based on cumulative exposure estimates based on biomonitoring data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). While it might prove useful, this model estimates population exposures solely on NHANES data, a process that has not been subject to public review. Furthermore, EPA abandons its established methodology in favor of the new model, rather than supplement it.
In comments submitted to EPA in July by Beyond Pesticides, Food and Water Watch, Greenpeace US, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and dozens of public health and environmental groups from the U.S. and Canada, the agency was urged to use its authority to cancel the non-medical uses of the antibacterial chemical triclosan in order to protect human health and the environment.
EPA has conceded however, that based on the ongoing research on triclosan, it would review the chemical again in 2013, 10 years earlier than scheduled.
TAKE ACTION: Let the EPA know that it is not doing all it could to protect public health and the environment from the serious and long-lasting impacts of the continued and unnecessary use of triclosan. Submit your comments at www. regulation.gov using docket number ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-0513 no later than December 29, 2008. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
You can also send your comments via mail to the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) Regulatory Public Docket (7502P), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.
In addition, if you would like to sign on to Beyond Pesticides’ comment, please let Nichelle Harriott ([email protected]) know and we will get you a copy of the comment.