The Food and Drug Administration is looking into the safety of a key ingredient
in many antibacterial soaps on the market, according to the
New York Times. The chemical—known as triclosan—was developed more than 40
years ago as a surgical scrub for hospitals. It is now found in a range
of consumer products, including best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total.
In fact, it is so prevalent that a survey by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of
Americans over the age of 5.
What concerns the FDA is that several studies have shown that triclosan
may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic
resistance. As a result, several consumer groups and members of Congress
want it banned in antiseptic products like hand soap. In a Feb. 23, 2010
letter to Mr. Markey, the FDA noted that these studies “raise valid concerns about the
effect of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients.”
What Does This Mean for Consumers?
We will certainly know more when the FDA releases its findings sometime
next year. In the meantime, the FDA has already said that soap with triclosan
is no more effective than washing with ordinary soap and water, a finding
that manufacturers dispute. While manufacturers contest the potential
harmful effects of the chemical, many liquid soaps, including Soft Soap
and Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid, have been reformulated without