Environmental Working Group (EWG): Antibacterial Agent No Better Than Soap & Water and It's Toxic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2008
CONTACT: Environmental Working Group (EWG)
EWG Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982
Antibacterial Agent No Better Than Soap & Water and It's Toxic
Pesticide in Toothpaste, Shower Curtains, Cutting Boards
Could Harm Babyıs Health
WASHINGTON - July 17 - Itıs a toxic pesticide that may be in your childıs
toothpaste and toys, in your bed, kitchen counters and clothing. Itıs
supposed to kill germs, but is really no better than soap and water, and
could harm your babyıs health.
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent used in many everyday products including
liquid hand soap, dishwashing detergent, mattresses, shower curtains,
bathtubs, and cutting boards. Federal agencies continue to allow its use
despite the fact it may be toxic to the developing fetus and child, and
pollutes mothersı breast milk.
For a study released today, Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists dug
through industry documents, independent studies, and government data, and
found no evidence that triclosanıs widespread use gives consumers the
increased germ-killing benefits the products promise. Still, it is touted by
leading brands like Softsoap, Dial, and Bath & Body Works, and listed on the
labels of almost half of 259 hand soaps. EWGıs investigation is at
³A toxic pesticide linked to serious health problems should not be in our
soap or toothpaste,² said EWG Staff Scientist Rebecca Sutton, PhD. ³Itıs
time to ban triclosan from all personal care and household products.²
Triclosan has been linked to cancer in lab animals, has been targeted for
removal from some stores in Europe for its health and environmental risks,
and the American Medical Association recommends against its use in the home.
It is also linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and low levels of
triclosan may disrupt the thyroid hormone system. Thyroid hormones are
essential to proper growth and development, particularly for brain growth in
utero and during infancy.
Triclosan breaks down into very toxic chemicals, including a form of dioxin;
methyl triclosan, which is acutely toxic to aquatic life; and chloroform, a
carcinogen formed when triclosan mixes with tap water that has been treated
with chlorine. Scientists surveyed 85 U.S. rivers and streams, and found
traces of triclosan in more than half.
As required by law, the Environmental Protection Agency is now reviewing
health and safety data for triclosan. This is a critical process that could
lead to the stringent health and environmental protections needed to reduce
exposure to this toxic antimicrobial agent. However, EPAıs draft risk
assessment of triclosan raises serious concerns: Plagued with data gaps and
inconsistencies, the assessment was crafted to support the status quo.
³The AMA is concerned that antibacterial agents like triclosan may
contribute to the serious problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Until these agents have been proven to be beneficial, we should remove them
from consumer products² said Dr. Anila Jacob, MD, EWG Senior Scientist. "The
widespread use of this pesticide without proven benefit exposes people and
the environment to a potentially toxic chemical."
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses
the power of information to protect human health and the environment.