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Turn Off the False Alarm: Antibacterial Ingredient Used, Safely Effectively

WASHINGTON, DC – July 19, 2007 – Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area can continue to use triclosan-containing hygiene and cleaning products with confidence – despite the alarmist rhetoric used in a report on regional wastewater samples.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) expressed disappointment that the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) would support statements questioning the environmental safety of triclosan-containing soaps and cleaning products – given the long-standing evidence demonstrating their safety.

A report issued by EBMUD and Environmental Working Group grossly overstates the human health and environmental risk posed by the micro levels of the antibacterial ingredient triclosan in treated wastewater.

Contrary to published comments made by an EBMUD spokesman, the overwhelming evidence and scientific research show that triclosan demonstrates very good biodegradation behavior in the environment and a high margin of safety for humans and aquatic life.

SDA is dismayed that the Utility District would discourage the use of antibacterial soaps, which play a beneficial role in the daily hygiene routines of millions of people.

Triclosan has been used safely and effectively in hygiene products for more than three decades and has been regulated and reviewed by authorities in the United States – including the Food and Drug Administration – and around the world.

A wealth of scientific data – including multi-generation reproduction and developmental (teratology) studies as well as lifetime studies – clearly confirm that triclosan has no estrogenic or antiandrogenic (gender-changing) effects on living organisms.

Triclosan-containing soaps and washes – whether used by consumers in the home or medical personnel in the hospital – reduce or eliminate bacteria that can lead to skin infections, intestinal illnesses or other commonly transmitted diseases.  Additionally, these products, along with other antibacterial products, are essential for individuals who are:

  • in close physical contact with persons at high risk for infection: the elderly cared for in retirement facilities or the immuno-suppressed.
  • in contact with persons infected with an organism likely to be transmitted by direct contact:  diarrhea, upper respiratory infection, and skin infections.
  • in settings in which infectious disease transmission is likely: food preparation, chronic-care residences, prisons, child-care centers and preschools.

Consumers can continue to safely use antibacterial soaps and hygiene products with confidence – as they already do in homes, schools, offices, hospitals and health care centers, day care centers and nursing homes – every single day.

You can view more detailed information on the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial products on ACI's Antibacterial Information page, at www.cleaninginstitute.org/antibacterials.