(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2010) Twenty local businesses and organizations around New Brunswick, New Jersey announced their commitment to not purchase, use or sell products that contain triclosan, an antimicrobial pesticide shown to pose risks to both human health and the environment. Last week, the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch convened an event with the businesses and organizations as part of its “Wash Your Hands of Triclosan” campaign. Speakers additionally expressed support for a proposed Highland Park ordinance to ban the municipal purchase of products containing triclosan, which will be discussed at the Highland Park Board of Health’s meeting on March 11. The community support behind prohibiting triclosan products is a strong indication of an increasing public rejection of the chemical.
Originally developed as an anti-bacterial agent for hospital settings, triclosan is widely found in many consumer and household products ranging from dish soaps and detergents to toothpastes, deodorants, and others. A known endocrine disruptor, triclosan has been linked to antibiotic resistance, and can affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for cancer. Due to its prevalence in so many products, triclosan is now showing up in many things, from human breast milk to earthworms and marine life. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals reports that triclosan is found in the urine of about 75% of the U.S. population. When exposed to UV light, triclosan has also been shown to convert to dioxin, an environmental pollutant and known carcinogen. Because many products that contain triclosan wash down the drain, it is a common contaminant in rivers, streams and drinking water, and is often present in the sewage sludge used to fertilize food crops.
“We are excited to see these businesses joining us in the fight to stop using a harmful and unnecessary pesticide,” said Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director of Food & Water Watch. “We hope their actions will inspire local policymakers to do their part by banning the municipal purchase of products that contain triclosan.”
“It is great to see so many leaders from our community standing together for the health and well being of our community,” said Highland Park Council member Jon Erikson at the event. “Thanks to their leadership, the Highland Park Board of Health will be considering a resolution that would ensure that the borough does not buy or use any of these products in the future.”
Richard Menashe, M.D., who practices Family Medicine in Edison, N.J., spoke about the concern among health care providers with regards to triclosan. “When triclosan bioaccumulates, endocrine disruption can result, which may threaten healthy thyroid tissue and other organ function. It could also contribute to the risk for cancer, through its affect on hormones in the body. Further, evidence suggests that triclosan may be linked to resistance to antibiotic medications, which could open vulnerable populations to bacteria-induced illnesses or even death. There are simply too many health risks associated with the pesticide triclosan for it to be considered safe for consumers to use.”
“The local businesses that have made this pledge have shown their dedication to the health and safety of the Highland Park community,” said James McCrone, Executive Director of Main St. Highland Park. “They have taken this step to put their customers’ well-being first and we are very proud of their leadership.”
John Leary, President of George St. Co-op, spoke on behalf of one of the twenty businesses and organizations that pledged to stop using and selling products with triclosan. “It is dangerous to let triclosan continue contaminating our water systems,” said Leary. “At our co-op, we have a responsibility to our community to sell the most environmentally sustainable, healthiest, and safest items to our customers, and products with triclosan just don’t fit the bill.”
The local businesses that have made the pledge include: Anna’s Health Food Center, Clean Ocean Action, Edible Garden Project, Food & Water Watch, George St. Co-op, G & P Lebanese Pastry & Fast Food, Highland Printing Center, Joanne Nails, Kiss Nail Salons, Law Office of Nels J. Lauritzen, Main Street Highland Park, Michael Bianc, Namaste Café, Over the Moon Toys, Peachepot, Rutgers Take Back the Tap, Sophisticated Smoker Inc., The Hub City Hub, Through the Moongate, and White Lotus Futon.
Food & Water Watch, in partnership with Beyond Pesticides, has submitted petitions to both the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring that they all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate several federal statutes.
“Non-medical uses of triclosan are totally unnecessary,” said Nichelle Harriot, research associate for Beyond Pesticides. “The constant exposure to triclosan becomes a health and environmental hazard, which is why Beyond Pesticides is actively working to get federal action for the removal of triclosan from the market place as well as continuing to work with retailers and manufacturers to remove triclosan from their products and store shelves.”
TAKE ACTION: On February 22, 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a federal notice requesting data and information regarding the potential environmental impact of triclosan’s use in acne and antiplaque/antigingivitis products. The agency, in order to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), must complete environmental assessments (EA) for active ingredients before they are included in the agency’s over-the-counter (OTC) drug regulation system. Tell FDA that triclosan use in acne, antigingivitis/antiplaque and other products poses and unreasonable harm to our environment. Submit electronic comments to the FDA at www.regulation.gov using docket number: FDA-1996-N-0006. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management HFA-305, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Comments must be submitted by May 24, 2010.
Get your municipality, institution, school or company to adopt the Triclosan Model Resolution to not buy products with triclosan and support broader elimination of non-medically prescribed uses. For more information on triclosan and its impacts on human and environmental health, visit our Antibacterial program page.