U.S. FDA Bans 19 Hazardous Chemicals from Soaps

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has forbidden manufacturers from selling soaps that contain specific active antibacterial ingredients to consumers. Some 19 substances are involved; manufacturers have one year to remove the products from the market and find substitutes for the banned active ingredients.

The American Cleaning Institute, a trade association, reacted cautiously. The FDA wants to see evidence that indicates the benefits of triclosan within one year. However, the substance can still be used in hand disinfectants used in hospitals and medical offices. According to the FDA, most hard and liquid soaps in the United States contain at least one of the forbidden ingredients. The most common are triclosan and triclocarban. The FDA stated that manufacturers have not yet provided the required proof that the substances are harmless to health and that they are more effective than traditional soaps. Korean researchers have studied the effects of soaps with and without triclosan and have not found any differences. They have published their results in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

In their press release, the authorities at the FDA wrote that the ingredients are more harmful than beneficial. For example, animal experiments have shown the substances to have impaired muscle function and that they may also have a hormonal affect. The wide use of the ingredients for more than 30 years has already spread them throughout the environment. They have been used as ingredients in disinfectants, toothpastes, and soaps and have been used to treat mattress coverings, sport and performance textiles, shoes, and carpeting. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the substances appear in the urine of three out of every four men and even in the umbilical cord blood of pregnant women.

As early as 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) (text in German only) called for limiting the use of triclosan to hospitals and medical practices or the chemical would foster the development of resistant bacteria.

According to the Biocide Regulation, triclosan can no longer be used in hygiene products after January of this year.

If you have any questions about triclosan and the effects of the FDA decision, please contact us at biocides@kft.de.

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