News Masthead


June 29, 2009 05:00 PM

Contact: Brian Sansoni, 202-662-2517 / 202-680-9327 or

Fear-Mongering on Triclosan Research Needs a Dose of Reality

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 29, 2009 – Once again, the amazing technology that allows us to find just about anything anywhere is being exploited to attack an antibacterial ingredient that's safely used in hygiene products, according to The Soap and Detergent Association.

Researchers recently reported​ finding the "presence" of the germ-killing ingredient triclosan in bottlenose dolphins. Now, activist generated blogs and articles are distorting the finding, implying that these creatures have been "contaminated."

"In a nutshell, the researchers found triclosan at levels you can measure at parts per trillion," said Dr. Paul DeLeo, SDA Director of Environmental Safely. "One part per trillion is essentially a drop of ink in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, or one second every 320 centuries1. It's a bit of an understatement to say these are really low traces.

"The research basically tells us that the analytical science available today is amazing. You can find just about anything you want to just about anywhere if you're looking for it."

SDA expressed disappointment but not surprise that the activist group Beyond Pesticides is exploiting the detection of minute traces of triclosan into another attack on the ingredient's safety.

"Explaining research needs to be done responsibly and with a dose of reality," said Dr. DeLeo.

Despite the activist group's exaggerations about triclosan, the ingredient is well-regulated by governmental bodies around the world and has a long-track record of human and environmental safety.

Antibacterial soaps with triclosan have been scientifically shown2 to work better than plain soap when it comes to killing harmful bacteria. A Scottish study3 found a soap scrub solution containing triclosan is effective against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospital and clinical settings, and community-acquired MRSA without causing resistant bacteria strains.

Years' worth of research also showcases the ingredient's environmental safety, as 90-98% of triclosan is typically removed by wastewater treatment plants. The microscopic amounts that have been detected in humans, amphibians or insects have not been shown to cause any adverse effects.

Triclosan-containing hygiene products continue to be used safely and effectively in homes, hospitals, and workplaces every single day. Science-based risk analysis backs this up, thanks to the industry's long-standing research and product stewardship efforts.

1. International Biopharmaceutical Association website,
2. Fischler et al., 2007. The effect of and wash agents on controlling the transmission of pathogenic bacteria from hands to food. J. of Food Protect. 70: (12) 2873-2877
3. Smith, K., Gernmell, C. and Hunter, I. (2007). The association between biocide tolerance and the presence or absence of qac genes among hospital-acquired and community-acquired MRSA isolates. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy . 61(1):78-84, January 2008.

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The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA –, the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Product and Oleochemical Industries®, is a one-hundred plus member trade association representing the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market. SDA members include the formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and oleochemical producers. SDA and its members are dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices.