Triclosan

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

Triclosan, also known as 2,4,4’-Trichloro-2’-hydroxyphenyl ether, is a phenolic diphenol ether, used for over 30 years as a preservative, antibacterial, and antifungal.[1] It was patented and used in medical supplies in 1964 and by 1987 was being used in consumer products.[2] In April 2010, after prompting from Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), the FDA and EPA announced they would reconsider the safety and usefulness of triclosan.[3] With widespread use of triclosan in personal care products, the Natural Resources Defense Council has called on the U.S. FDA to ban the chemical. In a press release, NRDC Senior Scientist Dr. Sarah Janssen said, "With no proven benefit and many red flags raised for harmful health impacts, the use of these so-called anti-microbials is an unnecessary and stupid use of toxic chemicals."[4] On July 27, 2010, NRDC filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its failure to finalize a ban on both triclocarban and triclosan, which was first initiated in 1978.[5] The lawsuit covers liquid and bar soaps and body washes. With its common household use, triclosan makes its way into the wastewater stream and frequently turns up in sewage sludge.

Uses

Triclosan is found in clothing, kitchenware, furniture, toys, medical devices, antibacterial soaps and body washes, deodorants, acne medications, mouthwashes, toothpastes, wound disinfection solutions, and cosmetics.[6][7] Triclosan is found in 75 percent of liquid hand soaps.[8] However, an advisory panel to the FDA found in 2005 that there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps are more effective than regular soap and water.[9] In April 2008, the FDA amended its page on triclosan to say the following: "At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water."[10][11][12]

Brands and products containing triclosan include:[13]

  • 8 in 1 (Pet Shampoo)
  • Bath & Body Works (AntiBacterial Hand Gel)
  • Clean and Smooth (Liquid Soap)
  • Clearasil (Face Wash)
  • Colgate (Toothpaste)
  • Dawn (Dishwashing Liquid, Liquid Soap)
  • Dial (Body Wash, Liquid Soap)
  • Edge (Shave Gel)
  • Gentle (Liquid Soap)
  • Gillette (Shave Gel)
  • Imina (Facial Cleanser)
  • Joy (Dishwashing Liquid, Liquid Soap)
  • Lever 2000 (Bar Soap)
  • Old Spice (Deodorant)
  • Noxzema (Cleanser)
  • Palmolive (Liquid Soap)
  • Pet Gold (Dog Shampoo)
  • pHisoderm (Skin Cleanser)
  • Revlon (Lipgloss)
  • Right Guard Sport (Deodorant)
  • Shield (Bar Soap)
  • Soft and Dri (Antiperspirant)
  • Softsoap (Body Wash, Liquid Soap)
  • Suave (Bar Soap, Liquid Soap)
  • Vaseline (Liquid Soap)

Triclosan as a Pollutant

Triclosan enters the environment either via effluent released from wastewater treatment plants or in sewage sludge applied to land.[14] In 1999-2000, triclosan was found in 57.6% of 139 U.S. streams sampled in 30 states.[15] A recent study found that soybeans grown in sewage sludge took up triclosan.[16] Increasingly, triclosan is also found in the bodies of Americans.[17] When triclosan breaks down, it can form small amounts of 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin.[18]

Triclosan Breaks Down Into Dioxins

Triclosan can break down into a number of dioxins in the environment, including 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,8-DCDD), 2,3,7-trichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7-TCDD), 1,2,8-trichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (1,2,8-TriCDD), and 1,2,3,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (1,2,3,8-TCDD).[19] The 2010 study that revealed this found that over the last 30 years, "the levels of the four dioxins derived from triclosan have risen by 200 to 300 percent, while levels of all the other dioxins have dropped by 73 to 90 percent."[20] Researchers say these compounds “represent a previously unrecognized and increasingly important source of di-, tri-, and tetrachlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins.”[21]

In Sewage Sludge

2010 Tests of San Francisco Sewage Sludge Find PBDEs, Triclosan

On August 10, 2010, the Food Rights Network announced in a news release that "Independent tests of sewage sludge-derived compost from the Synagro CVC plant -- distributed free to gardeners since 2007 by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in their "organic biosolids compost" giveaway program -- have found appreciable concentrations of contaminants with endocrine-disruptive properties. The independent tests were conducted for the Food Rights Networkby Dr. Robert C. Hale of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences."

In an August 6, 2010, letter reporting on his findings to the Food Rights Network Robert Hale wrote: "A sewage sludge-derived compost from the Synagro CVC plant, distributed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in their "compost give away" program, was analyzed for synthetic pollutants. Several classes of emerging contaminants with endocrine disruptive properties were detected in appreciable concentrations, including polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants, nonylphenols (NPs) detergent breakdown products and the antibacterial agent triclosan." PDFs are attached here of the letter and the data: [22] [23] [24] [25]

Plant Uptake of Triclosan

A study by researchers at the University of Toledo examined the uptake of three pharmaceuticals, carbamazepine, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and fluoxetine (Prozac), and two personal care products, triclosan and triclocarban, by soybean plants.[26] The plants were grown in "treatments simulating biosolids application and wastewater irrigation." The plants were then examined after growing for 60 and 110 days. The plants concentrated carbamazepine, triclosan, and triclocarban in their roots but the three chemicals were found translocated in the above ground parts of the plants, including the beans. Concentrations were higher in the plants grown in simulated biosolids, or sewage sludge.

Human Exposure and Health Effects

Humans are exposed to triclosan through the many consumer products containing it and possibly by ingesting food grown in fields fertilized with contaminated sewage sludge[27][28] After use of toothpaste containing triclosan, triclosan can remain present in human saliva for several hours. Triclosan can also be absorbed by the skin into the blood stream. In studies, it is excreted, primarily as unchanged triclosan, over several days in the feces and urine.[29] The CDC found a significant increase in urinary triclosan levels between studies complete in 2003-04 and 2005-06.[30] The mean level of urinary triclosan increased from 13.0 micrograms per liter in 2003-04 to 18.5 micrograms per liter in 2005-06. This represents a 42.3% increase. Measured as micrograms per gram of creatinine, mean urinary triclosan increased from 12.7 in 2003-04 to 18.0 in 2005-06, a 41.7 percent increase.

Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor. In animal tests, triclosan interferes with thyroid hormone (serum total thyroxine), which is critical for normal growth and brain development, as well as male and female sex hormones, which are necessary for the normal growth and function of the reproductive system.[31][32] One study found that triclosan decreased sperm count, damaged the male reproductive system, and disrupted male hormone production in rats.[33] Scientists fear that it may have the same effects on humans because humans have similar hormone systems as animals.[34]

Additionally, is concern that overuse of triclosan promotes antibiotic resistance among bacterial.[35]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  2. Janet Raloff"A new source of dioxins: Clean hands", Science News, May 18, 2010, Accessed August 9, 2010.
  3. Lyndsey Layton, "FDA says studies on triclosan, used in sanitizers and soaps, raise concerns", Washington Post, April 8, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  4. Dr. Sarah Janssen, Press Release: "Triclosan Exposure Levels Increasing in Humans, New Data Shows Potential for Food Contamination", Natural Resources Defense Council, August 5, 2010, Accessed August 5, 2010
  5. Natural Resources Defense Council, Press Release: "Lawsuit Seeks Final Rule on ‘Antibacterial’ Chemicals After 32-Year Delay", July 27, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  6. U.S. FDA, Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know, Accessed August 5, 2010
  7. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  8. Paul McRandle, Antibacterials Q&A: Dr. Sarah Janssen on the Hazards of Hormone Disrupting Hand Cleaners, Natural Resources Defense Council, April 1, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  9. Lyndsey Layton, "FDA says studies on triclosan, used in sanitizers and soaps, raise concerns", Washington Post, April 8, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  10. U.S. FDA, Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know, Accessed August 6, 2010
  11. U.S. FDA, "FDA Provides Information to Consumers about the Ingredient Triclosan", April 8, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  12. Natural Resources Defense Council, "FDA Acknowledges Potential Harmful Effects of Antibacterial Chemicals", April 8, 2010, Accessed August 6, 2010
  13. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Household Products Database
  14. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  15. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  16. Chenxi Wu, Alison L. Spongberg, Jason D. Witter, Min Fang, and Kevin P. Czajkowski, "Uptake of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products by Soybean Plants from Soils Applied with Biosolids and Irrigated with Contaminated Water", Environmental Science and Technology, July 21, 2010, Accessed August 5, 2010
  17. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  18. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
  19. Jeffrey M. Buth, Peter O. Steen, Charles Sueper, Dylan Blumentritt, Peter J. Vikesland, William A. Arnold and Kristopher McNeill, "Dioxin Photoproducts of Triclosan and Its Chlorinated Derivatives in Sediment Cores", Environmental Science & Technology, May 17, 2010, Accessed August 9, 2010.
  20. "Rising Levels of Dioxins from Common Soap Ingredient in Mississippi River, Study Finds", Science Daily, May 25, 2010, Accessed August 9, 2010.
  21. Janet Raloff"A new source of dioxins: Clean hands", Science News, May 18, 2010, Accessed August 9, 2010.
  22. Hale Letter 8/6/10
  23. Hale Data NP
  24. Hale Data PAH
  25. Hale Data PBDE
  26. Chenxi Wu, Alison L. Spongberg, Jason D. Witter, Min Fang, and Kevin P. Czajkowski, "Uptake of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products by Soybean Plants from Soils Applied with Biosolids and Irrigated with Contaminated Water", Environmental Science and Technology, July 21, 2010, Accessed August 5, 2010
  27. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  28. Chenxi Wu, Alison L. Spongberg, Jason D. Witter, Min Fang, and Kevin P. Czajkowski, "Uptake of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products by Soybean Plants from Soils Applied with Biosolids and Irrigated with Contaminated Water", Environmental Science and Technology, July 21, 2010, Accessed August 5, 2010
  29. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Accessed August 5, 2010
  30. Centers for Disease Control, Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals: Updated Tables, Accessed August 5, 2010
  31. Kevin M. Crofton, Katie B. Paul, Michael J. DeVito, Joan M. Hedge, "Short-term in vivo exposure to the water contaminant triclosan: Evidence for disruption of thyroxine," Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 24 (2007) 194–197
  32. Leah M. Zorrilla, Emily K. Gibson, Susan C. Jeffay, Kevin M. Crofton, Woodrow R. Setzer, Ralph L. Cooper, and Tammy E. Stoker, "The Effects of Triclosan on Puberty and Thyroid Hormones in Male Wistar Rats," Toxicological Sciences, October 21, 2008
  33. Kumar V, Chakraborty A, Kural MR, Roy P., "Alteration of testicular steroidogenesis and histopathology of reproductive system in male rats treated with triclosan," Reproductive Toxicology, April 27, 2009
  34. Natural Resources Defense Council, "Not Effective and Not Safe: The FDA Must Regulate Dangerous Antimicrobials in Everyday Products Facts," April 2010
  35. Yazdankhah, S. P., A. A. Scheie, et al. (2006). "Triclosan and Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria: An Overview." Microbial Drug Resistance 12(2): 83-90.

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