200 Scientists Want Tougher Limits on Chemicals in Personal Care Products

200 Scientists Want Tougher Limits on Chemicals in Personal Care Products

In June of 2017, a group of 200 scientists and medical professionals called on the international community to ratchet up restrictions on the production and use of triclosan and triclocarban – 2 antimicrobial chemicals found in shampoos and cosmetics. They cite “extensive peer-reviewed research” which suggests the ingredients are potentially harmful. [1]

In late 2016, the FDA banned 19 chemicals in hand and body soap over concerns about their effect on human health and the environment. Despite the ban, dangerous chemicals are still commonly used in other personal care products.

A senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), David Andrews said:

“Other ongoing uses are not addressed by the recent FDA action, and more needs to be done.” [2]

The group of scientists and medical professionals said in a statement published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that the chemicals, which have been used for decades, should be reserved for use only in situations where there is an “evidence-based health benefit.” [1]

They added:

“Greater transparency is needed in product formulations, and before an antimicrobial is incorporated into a product, the long-term health and ecological impacts should be evaluated.”

There is evidence to suggest that triclosan and triclocarban, both endocrine-disruptors, persist in the environment, where they may harm aquatic life and other organisms. The group’s primary concern is that the chemicals’ pervasiveness may be contributing to antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance and the rise of deadly superbugs.

As endocrine-disruptors, triclosan and triclocarban can affect the hormone cycles and development of organisms. The chemicals have also been linked to increased susceptibility to allergens.

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Source: Treehugger.com

The FDA regulates certain products containing triclosan, including cosmetics, toothpastes, shampoos, and soaps. But there are other products not regulated by the agency that also contain the gender-bending chemical, including clothing, credit cards, cutting boards, blankets, mattresses, bathtubs, furniture, and toys. Furthermore, there is no limit on the use of triclosan and triclocarban in household or building products. [2]

Andrews said:

“For decades, the American public has been led to believe that antimicrobial products would make us healthier and safer.” [1]

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Label These Chemicals

The group wants the chemicals to be listed on labels of all consumer products that contain them. Additionally, it wants the FDA and the EPA to restrict unnecessary use. It notes in its statement that some companies, including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, have already begun phasing out triclosan and triclocarban. [2]

The American Cleaning Institute and the Personal Care Products Council maintain that scientific evidence is on their side, and shows their products are safe and effective, and do not contribute to antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance. Both groups warn that banning or restricting the chemicals may lead to an increase in infections and disease. [1]

Studies show, however, that triclosan-containing soaps work no better than regular hand soap at killing germs.


[1] Chicago Tribune

[2] Health Day