FDA Asked for Triclosan Answers

Representative Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an update on its review of the chemical,<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/triclosan"> triclosan, which is found in many consumer products, said The Washington Post. The review has been “long delayed,” said The Post.

Karen Riley, FDA spokeswoman, said it will probably request more information about triclosan and other chemicals, to complete its review, explained The Post. “FDA is planning to issue a proposed rule that will request additional data regarding the safety and effectiveness of topical antimicrobial products for consumer use where the available data are not sufficient,” Riley said, quoted The Post.

Regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA, triclosan is found in clothing, toys, kitchen utensils and cutting boards, hairbrushes, computer keyboards, countertops, plastics, facial tissues, hand soaps, cosmetics, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, antiseptics, and medical devices. Research indicates that widespread triclosan use causes some serious health and environmental problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in its 2009 report and 2010 update, National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, that triclosan is in the bodies of 75 percent of the U.S. population and its levels are increasing. An increase of 42 percent, noted The Post.

A critical health concern is triclosan’s link to bacterial resistance, a special problem for vulnerable populations. An endocrine disruptor shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, triclosan potentially increases cancer risks and studies show its adverse effects on fetal growth and development. The pesticide also accumulates in biosolids, is taken up by food crops, and breaks down to different dioxins, exposing consumers to even more dangerous chemicals. An emerging study suggests that young people overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may be at increased allergy risks and the European Union’s (EU) Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety issued a warning that triclosan could add to bacterial resistance, calling for more studies.

The FDA said that it was reviewing animal studies pointing to triclosan’s disruption of hormone levels, said The Post, noting that the FDA had announced that soap with triclosan no better than soap without. But, the agency also said that it “does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time” quoted The Post.

The American Cleaning Institute’s spokesman, Brian Sansoni, not surprisingly, said, “These are products that are used safely and effectively by millions of Americans every day,” quoted The Post. Group members include Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Dow Chemical Co.

The FDA plans to release its assessment next spring; however, Congressman Markey hopes he can convince FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to move more quickly, wrote The Post. Meanwhile, Markey said his office has asked over one dozen companies to remove Triclosan from their products voluntarily; most have refused saying they will wait for the FDA review, The Post pointed out.

On a more positive note, Colgate-Palmolive is reformulating its dishwashing soap; Lysol spray maker Reckitt Benckiser, will reformulate all its products containing triclosan by 2011; and Acme United Corp. and Victorinox said they have removed triclosan from their knives, said The Post.

“I appreciate that several companies have shown good corporate citizenship by voluntarily removing triclosan from some of their consumer soaps and products intended to come into contact with food,” Markey said. “But we must ensure that all companies that make these products don’t wash their hands of their responsibility to protect consumers simply because the FDA and EPA aren’t acting quickly enough,” he added, quoted The Post. FDA said it will review Markey’s letter and respond to the Congressman directly.

Markey also wrote to the EPA, the group that regulates the chemical as a pesticide, asking its commissioner, Lisa Jackson, to step up its review. EPA does not intend on implementing its review until 2013, wrote The Post.

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