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Triclosan is found in many household items and may be dangerous

After taking its sweet time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make a decision on whether a chemical found in household antibacterial soaps is safe or not. 

The chemical triclosan, which is found in about 75 percent of liquid antibacterial soaps in the United States, has been in question for quite some time now. Animal studies have shown that it could lead to infertility and early puberty -- and lawmakers and advocates want the FDA to make a decision now.

The case involving triclosan dates back as far as 1972. At that time, Congress passed a law that made the FDA set guidelines for antibacterial chemicals. The FDA published its first tentative set of guidelines in 1978 for the liquid soaps, which said that triclosan was not seen as "safe and effective" due to lack of research proving otherwise.

The FDA made many drafts since then, but none were ever finalized. Hence, triclosan was never removed from household products like antibacterial soap, toothpaste, deodorants, bedding, and even toys. 

Last summer, the FDA said the review would be complete by the end of 2012, but that was later pushed to February 2013. We are now in May 2013, and the FDA is being pushed to finalize the review. 


Triclosan is found in antibacterial soap [Image Source: Chicago Tribune]

The FDA was even threatened with a lawsuit by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council in March of this year. 

Right now, the FDA's website states that "the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water."

In August 2012, researchers at the University of California - Davis and the University of Colorado discovered that triclosan actually affects muscular strength in mice, swimming in fish and muscular contractions in skeletal and cardiac cells. 

The researchers reached these conclusions by first exposing living mice to doses of triclosan similar to that humans and animals would be in contact with on a daily basis. After 20 minutes of exposure, the mice had a 25 percent drop in heart function. They also had an 18 percent decrease in grip strength after an hour of exposure.

While the removal of triclosan could prove to be a nuisance for many industries, companies like Johnson & Johnson have already vowed to remove triclosan from all adult products by 2015. 

There's no exact date planned for the final review by the FDA, but it's expected to come this year -- hopefully. 

Source: CBS News



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Its about time
By Ammohunt on 5/6/2013 2:17:27 PM , Rating: 5
Hopefully this will spell the demise of yet another unneeded chemical additive that permanently pollutes our fresh water sources.




RE: Its about time
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/6/2013 2:38:15 PM , Rating: 5
I also wonder if this overuse of antibacterial stuff is the reason why kids today are allergic to every damn thing under the sun. Growing up in the 80s, I don't remember kids being allergic to so many damn things.


RE: Its about time
By bug77 on 5/6/2013 2:59:57 PM , Rating: 5
If the immune system doesn't see enough bacteria, it won't develop an immunity. That's all.


RE: Its about time
By Samus on 5/7/2013 12:36:51 AM , Rating: 3
Antibacterial soaps belong in one place and only one place: hospitals.

They simply shouldn't be sold at retail. I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to get them if you don't want them, but people don't get that for the last million years we have been surviving quite well with plenty of bacteria.

On the other hand, working in IT, I'm a pretty big user of hand sanitizer; the alcohol variety.


RE: Its about time
By tastyratz on 5/8/2013 9:44:35 AM , Rating: 3
Working in IT I can be a pretty big user of the BRAIN sanitizer; the alcohol variety.
Some of the things people do...


RE: Its about time
By ianweck on 5/7/2013 11:02:48 AM , Rating: 2
I thought that only pertained to viruses.


RE: Its about time
By Dug on 5/6/2013 3:15:37 PM , Rating: 1
That's from eating everything that is processed and not getting anything substantial in their system.
Also chemicals used in growing food (which I consider processed).

You are correct, there weren't so many kids allergic, obese, diabetic, and needing to be gluten free.

From 89 when I graduated we had 1 diabetic. The school has 40 now. No peanuts allowed, and a gluten free menu available.


RE: Its about time
By Motoman on 5/6/2013 5:17:28 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe...but I think the real answer is simply parents' behavior. Parents these days go to ridiculous lengths to "protect" their kids from anything...dirt, nuts, gluten, the outside world in general, so on and so forth.

It's a requirement of our biology that babies be exposed to...well, everything. Bacteria, microbes, all manners of potential allergans, etc.

Exposure to such things is what informs the body to learn to deal with it. If you prevent your young child from coming into contact with the real world, your child will become allergic to the real world.

The irony of course is that in being hyper-protective of their children, parents are actually *causing* their children to grow into lives filled with needless suffering and apprehension that they're going to come into contact with an everyday substance that could kill them.


RE: Its about time
By ianweck on 5/7/2013 11:06:23 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe. But I was never allergic to anything when I was younger. I was born in the 70s and my mother was definitely not a germophobe when it came to me. Still in 2006 I just developed seasonal allergies. Where does that come from? Now ever spring and summer I get to deal with allergies. I wonder if food allergies and seasonal allergies are governed by the same mechanism in our bodies?


RE: Its about time
By Iketh on 5/7/2013 12:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
Because your immune system forgets. About every 5 years, it will forget how to fend off an infection if it never comes in contact with it during that time.


RE: Its about time
By ianweck on 5/7/2013 4:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
So I need to get all of my shots again?


RE: Its about time
By thesavvymage on 5/7/2013 2:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously. My dad grew up in the middle east. Kids there hardly ever got sick, and he didnt even know what allergies were until he came here to the US in the late 80s. At first, he thought saying you were allergic to something meant that you didnt like it. You're quite right in thinking there could be a connection


RE: Its about time
By superflex on 5/6/13, Rating: 0
RE: Its about time
By Ammohunt on 5/6/2013 3:45:12 PM , Rating: 5
Its common knowledge that triclosan is among the pollutants that cannot be removed from water during the water treatment process. Chances are if your municipality gets its water from a river source you are drinking it now. its a completely unnecessary additive to soap so being an unnecessary pollutant benign or not.

Just FYI you don't need a PHD to search through and analyze the wealth of information on a given topic, you just have to be smarter then the average sheep.


RE: Its about time
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2013 7:37:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its common knowledge that triclosan is among the pollutants that cannot be removed from water during the water treatment process.


It doesn't have to be because it dilutes down into the water into absolutely minute amounts that are completely harmless.

Pretty sure if there WAS an actual health issue with this chemical, they wouldn't take 30+ years to take action.

quote:
its a completely unnecessary additive to soap so being an unnecessary pollutant benign or not.


Why would companies spend the money on putting it in the product if it was truly "unnecessary"?


RE: Its about time
By BifurcatedBoat on 5/6/2013 7:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
Whether or not this chemical is causing you any harm, starting with the assumption that there's someone out there looking out for your best interests and wouldn't allow something bad to happen to you is big mistake.


RE: Its about time
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2013 7:48:09 PM , Rating: 1
lol oh trust me, I'm no fan of the EPA/FDA/Government in general.

quote:
Whether or not this chemical is causing you any harm


It's not.


RE: Its about time
By Samus on 5/7/2013 12:38:38 AM , Rating: 2
not (yet)

genetic mutations, birth defects and adverse health effects to the population affect all of us.


RE: Its about time
By TSS on 5/6/2013 10:34:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why would companies spend the money on putting it in the product if it was truly "unnecessary"?


Why does everything in the US contain corn syrup sweetner instead of sugar?

Cause it's cheaper. You wanna sell anti-bacterial soap because nobody wants "icky germs" so there's a market, but you want to do it at the lowest cost possible. If the FDA doesn't say it's not safe, you can't be sued for it.

That's why. Free market also means free of ethics.


RE: Its about time
By ianweck on 5/7/2013 11:08:32 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure it's also marketing. Look, our soap has anti-bacterial properties and the competition's doesn't!


RE: Its about time
By maugrimtr on 5/8/2013 10:43:25 AM , Rating: 2
Triclosan is actually a known antibacterial agent. It just may have some side effects if you are exposed to it over time thus making it's use in soaps questionable. The research is sufficiently murky that the FDA can't exclude the possibility that it likely does have negative effects in mammals.

The thing is that there are "antibacterials" which are just as effective without the side effects that Triclosan likely has. Scrubbing your hands with normal soap tends to scrub away germs. I know, this must be hugely controversial - allowing the germs to survive the experience and retreat to the drainage system is immoral for some.

The companies are simply taking the cheapest route possible to get the phrase "antibacterial" onto their soap products. It's a silly and possibly harmful ploy - nothing else. It doesn't actually make the soap better.

It also ignores that some bacteria hiding out on your body are actually helpful. Controlling the population so you have the benefits and none of the downsides is great. Annihilating every germ and virus is not.


RE: Its about time
By Ammohunt on 5/7/2013 11:58:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pretty sure if there WAS an actual health issue with this chemical, they wouldn't take 30+ years to take action.


Not sure when you grew up bu i grew up when they were still adding lead to everyday gasoline to boost octane. Took them from the invention of the automobile to the late 80ies before they decided that may not be such a good idea.

quote:
Why would companies spend the money on putting it in the product if it was truly "unnecessary"?


Simple math (cost of soap+triclosan = anti-bacterial marketing hype = better than any other soap on the market = price premium.C'mon man Snake Oil salesmen have been around since the dawn of time; hell my wife's nutty cousin sells essential oil extracts that i guess with application and a little prayer can cure anything! Wonder if they are anti-bacterial?


RE: Its about time
By mikeyD95125 on 5/7/2013 3:42:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its common knowledge that triclosan is among the pollutants that cannot be removed from water during the water treatment process.


Knowledge accessible to the public: Yes.

Common Knowledge: NO.


RE: Its about time
By V-Money on 5/6/2013 4:55:53 PM , Rating: 3
It depends on how your municipality gets its drinking water. I actually took a tour of a water treatment plant which was a biological type treatment plant. The biomass would consume the organic contaminants in the water and make fresh water again. The big problem they were having was that the biomass couldn't consume all of the synthetic contaminants in the water. The biggest concern was estrogen since it would build up in the water supply. Definitely explains a lot.

It wouldn't be too hard to figure it out though and I am sure that this will be tested. My only worry is whether or not the concern for the truth and our health will outweigh the bags of money given to look the other way.

With that said, I would like to see the results of this study. I am convinced that the biggest cause for all of these "sensitivities" and "allergies" is mostly due to hypochondria (I swear that the gluten free diet is a cultural fad, not a condition) but some are obviously for real.


RE: Its about time
By Ammohunt on 5/6/2013 5:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
(I swear that the gluten free diet is a cultural fad, not a condition)


I am with you there. The paleo diet fad which excludes wheat etc.. is nonsense as well. The idea that paleolithic people didn't eat grass grains goes against the whole domestication of wheat in the first place i.e. they domesticated wheat because they wanted to eat more of it...


RE: Its about time
By Alexvrb on 5/7/2013 12:28:07 AM , Rating: 2
There are conditions, usually autoimmune diseases, that cause you to be more sensitive to certain types of food. Anything that sets the immune system against your own body, even temporarily, can cause permanent damage over repeated exposures. Look around, just because some people fall under the kneejerk category, doesn't mean it's all bunk.

Some people are genuinely gluten sensitive. I know someone that has to avoid it because it negatively impacts her and causes her systemic schleroderma to flare up, for lack of a better term. I know someone else that has Celiac disease and Crohn's disease (which seem to go hand in hand), and also has issues with gluten. That person also developed cancer (many autoimmune diseases are linked to certain cancers as a result of repeated damage caused by the immune system lashing out, though it obviously could be coincidence too).

My point being is that it isn't entirely a "fad", not for some people at least. Now, if you want to debate the How and Why so many people are being affected by diseases like this... that's a different story entirely. Perhaps we are simply more aware of what exactly is causing our problems. Or perhaps it has something to do with the large amount of chemicals we're exposed to all the time, like Triclosan, and even artificial sweeteners in diet soda.


RE: Its about time
By Ammohunt on 5/7/2013 11:50:52 AM , Rating: 2
Not talking about people that have problems with gluten those people typically say "i have a problem with Gluten". The people i am talking about are the ones that maintain that its not natural to each food that contains gluten because paleolithic people some how had the perfect diet which didn't include it and somehow their diet is better and therefore the reason the have an issue with gluten.


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