The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-2500
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides (202) 543-5450

Consumer Groups Challenge Feds to Ban Dangerous Pesticide Found in Consumer and Personal Care Products


Today, the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides, a public health and environmental organization, submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ask it to ban non-medical uses of the antimicrobial pesticide triclosan. More than 70 organizations signed the petition, which also outlines ways in which triclosan violates numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, clean water, safe drinking water, and the Endangered Species Act.

Originally developed as an anti-bacterial agent for hospital settings, triclosan is monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA, and widely used in many consumer and household products ranging from dish soaps and detergents to soaps, toothpastes, deodorants and more.

"Scientific studies indicate that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "EPA needs to ban its use in non-medical settings and stop allowing companies that market triclosan to exploit consumer fears regarding bacterial-born illnesses, Evidence suggests that triclosan is not effective for many of its intended benefits, and through its presence in an array of products that consumers use every day, may actually be doing more harm than good."

Chief among triclosan's health effects is resistance to antibiotic medications and bacterial cleansers, a problem for all people, but especially vulnerable populations such as infants and the elderly. Triclosan is also a known endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for cancer.

Exposure to triclosan is widespread and now found in the urine of 75 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, published by the Centers for Disease Control. Due to the fact that many products containing triclosan are washed down the drain, triclosan shows up in water systems and sewage sludge. Accumulation of the pesticide in waterways and soil has been shown to threaten ecosystems and produce hazardous residues in fish and other marine animals, and potentially contaminate food crops.

"Given its widespread environmental contamination and public health risks, EPA has a responsibility to ban household triclosan use in a marketplace where safer alternatives are available to manage bacteria," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

In July, Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides submitted a similar petition to FDA making the argument that triclosan violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Earlier this month, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) submitted letters to EPA and FDA urging them to reevaluate their oversight of the pesticide.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500