Triclosan Exposure Levels Increasing in Humans, New Data Shows Potential for Food Contamination

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Suzanne Struglinski, 202-289-2387, sstruglinski@nrdc.org

Triclosan Exposure Levels Increasing in Humans, New Data Shows Potential for Food Contamination

Updates from the CDC, New Scientific Study, Prove Need for Ban on Triclosan, Triclocarban

WASHINGTON - Levels of the chemical triclosan have
increased in humans by an average of 50 percent since 2004, according to
newly updated data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, a new study out of the University of Toledo has
found that both triclosan and triclocarban can enter the food chain
through of the use of contaminated wastewater or fertilizer in
agricultural fields.

Each of these findings on its own is troubling, but together
they make the case for banning the two chemicals even stronger,
according to health experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Triclosan and triclocarban are found in consumer and personal
care products, such as hand soap, labeled anti-bacterial or
anti-microbial. But the two chemicals are suspected endocrine disruptors
that can interfere with hormones needed for the brain and reproductive
system to develop properly.  The Food and Drug Administration has
admitted that using hand soap containing these chemicals actually does
not work any better than regular soap. NRDC sued the FDA last week to
issue a final rule on the safety and effectiveness of the two chemicals
that has been three decades in the making.

Updated data added this week to the CDC's National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
found that levels of triclosan in the U.S. population have increased by
an average of 50 percent in all age groups, both genders and all
reported ethnicities. People over 20 years of age, females and
Mexican-Americans are the most highly exposed.

Both triclosan and triclocarban are found in treated waste
water and sewage sludge, which is specially treated and commonly applied
to agricultural fields as fertilizer. A study published on-line this
week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology
found that soybean plants can absorb triclosan and triclocarban through
their roots and then into the beans. Though this experiment was done in
a greenhouse, it raises concerns because it suggests that humans are
not only exposed through their use of certain antimicrobial products,
but also potentially through eating contaminated food.

The following is a statement from Dr. Sarah Janssen, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"The widespread and unregulated use of antimicrobials such as
triclosan and triclocarban must end. In just two years, human exposure
to triclosan has dramatically risen and now there is evidence that our
food supply could also be contaminated with these chemicals. With no
proven benefit and many red flags raised for harmful health impacts, the
use of these so-called anti-microbials is an unnecessary and stupid use
of toxic chemicals."

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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