Widespread Uses of Anti-Bacterial Consumer Chemical Challenged
(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2008) In comments filed July 7, 2008 with the Environmental Protection Agency on its new risk assessment and evaluation of the widely used anti-bacterial chemical triclosan, found in a wide range of products including soaps, toothpastes and personal care products, plastics, paints and clothing, public interest health and environmental groups point to health effects, environmental contamination and wildlife impacts and call for consumer uses to be halted.
The comments, submitted 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, urge the agency to use its authority to cancel the non-medical uses of the antibacterial chemical triclosan, widely found in consumer products and shown to threaten health and the environment.
Triclosan and its degradation products bioaccumulate in humans, are widely found in the nations waterways, fish and other aquatic organisms, and because of triclosan’s proliferating uses, are linked to bacterial resistance, rendering triclosan and antibiotics ineffective for critical medical uses. The chemical and its degradates are also linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and dermal sensitization.
“The nonmedical uses of triclosan are frivolous and dangerous, creating serious direct health and environmental hazards and long-term health problems associated with the creation of resistant strains of bacteria,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. The American Medical Association (AMA) is on record questioning the efficacy of triclosan in consumer products, raising the questions of whether the consumer uses are necessary and if they are doing more harm than good.
The coalition of groups commenting yesterday, in addition to the hazards cited, criticizes EPA for not completing an analysis of the impact of triclosan on endangered species and other deficiencies in its review.
The EPA’s public comment period for the reevaluation of triclosan, known as the reregistration eligibility decision (RED), closed yesterday. The document releases EPA’s risk assessment and its decision to allow uses of triclosan to continue and expand. EPA shares responsibility for regulating triclosan with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). EPA has jurisdiction over treated textiles, paints and plastics and FDA is responsible for soaps, toothpaste, deordorants and antiseptics. The RED, however, is intended to assess the potential adverse effects across all uses.
In separate comments, water utilities commented that triclosan and its degradation products are not removed during the water treatment process and end up in sewage sludge, often referred to as biosolids. Research shows that earthworms take in triclosan residues, as do fish and other aquatic organisms. Concerns have also been raised about residues in drinking water.
See comments at: https://www.beyondpesticides.org/documents/triclosanEPAcomments.pdf.