Triclosan: A Chemical Banned by the FDA That You Use Everyday

In early fall of last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a final ruling on the use of the chemical triclosan, which is often found in liquid soaps, and triclocarban, found in bar soaps, due to the fact that long-term use can lead to bacterial resistance and dangerous hormonal effects particularly on children.

The ban of these ingredients, which can be found in “consumer antiseptic wash products,” according to the FDA’s statement, do not provide additional effectiveness against bacteria and germs without long-term safety concerns and that individuals should simply use warm water and regular hand soap to keep germs at bay.

However, only days after the ruling, news surfaced that while the use of triclosan had been banned in body and hand soaps, the chemical still exists in other various products that you use daily. While the use of triclosan in external products used on the exterior of the body were found to be potentially dangerous, it seems that products used inside the body continue to remain on the shelf, something that some scientists remain baffled over. The most prevalent example of this is with Colgate Total toothpaste.

According to reports, Colgate Total is in the top 10 list of most popular toothpaste products being sold in the United States. Colgate Total composed a press release only days after the release of the FDA’s final ruling noting that they complied with the FDA’s “rigorous New Drug Application (NDA) process” for evaluation of the use of triclosan in their toothpaste. Citing reports conducted by the European Commission that found the level of 0.3 percent of triclosan found in Colgate Total is “considered safe.”

However, the governing body in Europe that is the equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and FDA combined – known as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is in the process of conducting safety tests and reviewing triclosan in the same quantities for the competitor REACH brand, also a toothpaste giant with more widespread use overseas. This study won’t be released until January of 2018 and was only ordered after current tests of triclosan were found to be inconclusive as to if they were or were not safe for human use inside toothpaste.

While triclosan is only currently found in Colgate Total toothpaste and not in any other toothpaste sold and distributed in the United States, it is a top seller and used by millions of Americans nationwide.

Additional products that are also using some levels of triclosan in their products include non-prescription drugs, makeup products, deodorants, perfumes and fragrances, cleaners and detergents as well as lotions and shampoos.

Colgate Total and the use of triclosan have been in circulation in many products for at least two decades. Colgate Total introduced its gingivitis fighting and cavity preventing toothpaste with triclosan in 1997. At that time, the FDA also requested tests on the chemical. Again, in 2013, additional independent studies were conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review and released their findings that triclosan and fluoride based toothpastes were superior to those without the combination of the two chemicals. Yet, the study did not search for long-term adverse health effects and only focused on the success level of triclosan.

Unfortunately, while you may be thinking of switching your toothpaste brand or reading labels more carefully on the back of products you use, it was discovered by the National Defense Council that many companies began removing triclosan prior to the final ruling of the FDA in order to seem more consumer-friendly and caring.

Unfortunately, these same companies swapped out triclosan in products for benzalkonium chloride, which can be harmful if swallowed and cause short-term skin, eye and respiratory irritation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed no long-term or repeated exposure effects for this replacement chemical, as it is highly unlikely that these potential hazards are not known nor have they been studied.

It seems that nothing can be entirely eliminated from the American diet, but reading ingredient labels and opting for more organic and all-natural elements may significantly decrease the dangers of these unknown elements used in our daily routines.

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