Triclosan banned in Consumer Hand Soaps

Triclosan banned in Consumer Hand Soaps

The Food and Drug Administration will ban the use of 19 active ingredients, most notably the antibacterial compound Triclosan, in consumer antiseptic products on September 6, 2017 [1]. This ruling was made on September 6, 2016 after three years of deliberation regarding a rule proposed in 2013 that would require companies to provide systematic data about the effectiveness of these compounds [2]. As a result of failing to provide such data, companies that produce these hand soaps have one year to either remove these chemicals from their products, or take their products off of the shelves.

Antibiotics, such as Triclosan, are ubiquitously used in medicine to target and destroy bacterial infections in patients. However, in recent years there has been a growing threat of antibiotic resistance; that is, bacteria do not respond to these drugs and can survive in a patient for much longer than previously possible. Bacteria have been evolving to be more and more drug resistant, eventually leading to the creation of pandrug-resistant bacteria that are insensitive to all antimicrobial agents [3].

The FDA points out that handwashing with antibacterial soap is not proven to be more effective than with regular soap; this ban will remove antibacterial compounds from soaps, which will hopefully minimize the possibility of drug resistant bacteria.

In addition to antibiotic resistance, data have suggested that these chemicals may be causing adverse hormonal effects. Studies on the effects of Triclosan and similar compounds showed significant changes in thyroid hormone levels in amphibians [4,5] and in stress indicators in rat cells [6]. Despite rapid absorption of triclosan in humans [7], there have been no conclusive studies on the effects these compounds might have on the human body [8].

Hospitals will still be allowed to use these chemicals in their hand washing practices due to the high concentrations that are used, which greatly limits the chance of resistant bacteria [9]. An exception is also made for the food industry due to the “additional issues raised by…foodborne illness, differences in frequency and type of use [of soaps], and contamination of hands by grease and other oils” [10].

References:

1. “Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use,” Federal Register, September 6, 2016, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/06/2016-21337/safety-and-effectiveness-of-consumer-antiseptics-topical-antimicrobial-drug-products-for.

2. “FDA Bans 19 Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps,” NPR.org, accessed February 3, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/02/492394717/fda-bans-19-chemicals-used-in-antibacterial-soaps.

3. A. -P. Magiorakos et al., “Multidrug-Resistant, Extensively Drug-Resistant and Pandrug-Resistant Bacteria: An International Expert Proposal for Interim Standard Definitions for Acquired Resistance,” Clinical Microbiology and Infection 18, no. 3 (March 2012): 268–81, doi:10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03570.x.

4. Ashley Hinther et al., “Effects of Triclocarban, Triclosan, and Methyl Triclosan on Thyroid Hormone Action and Stress in Frog and Mammalian Culture Systems,” Environmental Science & Technology 45, no. 12 (June 15, 2011): 5395–5402, doi:10.1021/es1041942.

5. Nik Veldhoen et al., “The Bactericidal Agent Triclosan Modulates Thyroid Hormone-Associated Gene Expression and Disrupts Postembryonic Anuran Development,” Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 80, no. 3 (December 1, 2006): 217–27, doi:10.1016/j.aquatox.2006.08.010.

6. Hinther et al., “Effects of Triclocarban, Triclosan, and Methyl Triclosan on Thyroid Hormone Action and Stress in Frog and Mammalian Culture Systems.”

7. Gunilla Sandborgh-Englund et al., “Pharmacokinetics of Triclosan Following Oral Ingestion in Humans,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A 69, no. 20 (October 2006): 1861–73, doi:10.1080/15287390600631706

8. “Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use.”

9. “FDA Asks For Proof That Antibacterial Soaps Protect Health,” NPR.org, accessed February 3, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/12/16/251632461/fda-asks-for-proof-that-antibacterial-soaps-protect-health.

10. “Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use.”

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