The Food & Drug Administration announced Monday that the makers of antimicrobial and antibacterial soaps and body washes will need to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, as well as prove that they prevent the spread of illness better than simple soap and water. Failing to do so, manufacturers must reformulate or re-label these products to continue selling them.
Targeting Troublemakers Triclosan and Triclocarban
The FDA is largely targeting tricloasan, used in liquid soaps, and triclocarban, used in bar and some “deodorant” soaps. The use of these chemicals is associated with endocrine disruption and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Animal studies reveal that exposure to high levels of triclosan also disrupts thyroid homeostasis and has an effect on estrogen levels, leading to low sperm count in males and premature puberty in females. More concerning to the millions of Americans using the myriad of products that contain triclosan and triclocarban, the chemicals have also been detected in human breast milk, urine and blood.
While the FDA is not requiring that producers of antibacterial soaps immediately take their products of the market, manufacturers do have to conduct clinical studies showing the long-term health effects of the use of their soaps. If the products prove unsafe, the active ingredients must be removed to remain on the market.