(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2015) In a response that took over five years, yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its long-awaited response to a Citizen Petition filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, denying the request to cancel registered products that contain the antibacterial pesticide triclosan, often sold under the trade name microban. The decision allows this toxic substance to continue to be sold nationwide in common household products, from toys, cutting boards, hair brushes, sponges, computer keyboards to socks and undergarments. The agency did, however, grant one request, and will evaluate and conduct a biological assessment of the potential for effects on listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the ongoing triclosan registration review. The cosmetic uses of triclosan, such as toothpaste and liquid soaps, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and subject to a separate petition for which there has been no response since its filing in 2005 and again in 2009.
“Numerous studies have shown that antibacterial soaps cause more harm than any of their perceived benefits,” said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director at Beyond Pesticides. “For the protection of human health and the environment, we are troubled that EPA has decided not to ban triclosan, but are glad that they will finally evaluate potential for effects on wildlife —something the agency should have done before allowing its widespread use.”
The petition, submitted in January 2010, requested EPA to cancel registered pesticide products that contain triclosan, as well as reassess the risks associated with the chemical under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Clean Water Act (CWA), Safe Drinking Water Act, and ESA.
“Given all the available science, EPA should ban this pesticide while it is conducting further review,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
Research indicates that the toxic antibacterial can interfere with the action of hormones, potentially causing developmental problems in fetuses and newborns, among other health concerns. In December 2013, FDA announced that the growing body of scientific evidence warranted requiring manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps are safe and effective against bacteria, as product label claims stipulate, but no action has been taken by the agency.
Public pressure, led by Beyond Pesticides and other groups, has contributed to a growing awareness of the dangers of triclosan’s use. As a result, several major manufacturers have already taken steps to exclude the chemical, including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive, which reformulated its popular line of liquid soaps, but continues to formulate Total ® toothpaste with triclosan. Furthermore, Minnesota became the first state to ban the toxic antibacterial, announcing that retailers would no longer be able to sell cleaning products that contain triclosan, effective January 2017.
In the face of continued EPA inaction, Beyond Pesticides urges consumers, along with manufacturers, retailers, school districts, businesses and communities to wash their hands of triclosan and protect our water and health from this toxic pesticide. For additional information and resources on the human health and environmental effects of triclosan, join the ban triclosan campaign at http://bit.ly/BanTriclosanCampaign.
Click here for PDF version of the press release.
Click here to see the original petition.
For more information, contact:
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides
Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch