FDA Targets Antibacterial Soaps, May Finally Submit Triclosan Safety Review This Year
May 6, 2013 1:42 PM
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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.
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RE: Its about time
5/8/2013 10:43:25 AM
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.
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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