Update: The Pesticide in Many Soaps and Toothpastes to Get Reviewed

Common ingredient found in many antibacterial soaps to get an official review — an event some 40 years in the making.

Longtime readers of TheGreenGrok may recall my 2010 post on triclosan in our Chemical Marketplace series. The question raised there was whether triclosan, a compound regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an insecticide, is safe to use in personal care products such as toothpaste, deodorants, soaps and mouthwash for its antimicrobial properties.

At the time the jury was out. There were animal studies suggesting that exposure could lead to health impacts and others showing that triclosan already shows up in human breast milk, urine, and blood. However there are those, many from industry, that maintain that triclosan is safe.

At the time of the 2010 post, the Food and Drug Administration promised that a safety review on triclosan would be completed by the spring of 2011 — a review that Congress instructed the FDA to carry out way back in 1972. The report was not completed in 2011, but pushed back to 2012. Alas, 2012 came and went without any published findings by FDA, but a new date was promised for February 2013, but again to no avail. Now we read on the FDA website that

“We are engaged in a comprehensive scientific and regulatory review of all the available safety and effectiveness data. This includes data relevant to the emerging safety issues of bacterial resistance and endocrine disruption due to triclosan in FDA-regulated products.”

The Associated Press reports that FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao has said that “evaluating triclosan” is “one of the highest priorities” for the agency, and news outlets have reported that the FDA review could be forthcoming this year.

I guess I wouldn’t my breath on that one. In the meantime, as is often the case in the chemical marketplace: check the labels carefully and caveat emptor.

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