Are you brushing your teeth with Triclosan

Posted on August 20, 2011 by


Drug FactsThe maker of Dial Complete hand soap says that it kills more germs than any other brand. But is it safe?

Triclosan stands out on the label of Dial Complete.

According to an April 2010, FDA article, “Triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans.”

Yet, according to the Environmental Working Group, “Avoid unnecessary use of “antibacterial” products (read the list of ingredients). The American Medical Association recommends against using “antibacterial” products in the home (Tan 2002). Studies indicate that households that use these products are no healthier than those that use soap and water and other typical cleansing products (Larson 2003; FDA 2005).

If you need to use an antimicrobial skin disinfectant, use an alcohol hand rub or rinse product that does not list triclosan or “fragrance” in the ingredients.”

In an article in this weeks New York Times, the FDA and manufacturers are locked in a battle over Triclosan safety.

“Triclosan is now in a range of consumer products, including soaps, kitchen cutting boards and even a best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total. It is so prevalent that a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5.

Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance and some consumer groups and members of Congress want it banned in antiseptic products like hand soap. The FDA has already said that soap with triclosan is no more effective than washing with ordinary soap and water, a finding that manufacturers dispute.

The FDA was to announce the results of its review several months ago, but now says the timing is uncertain and unlikely until next year. The Environmental Protection Agency is also looking into the safety of Triclosan.

I did some research and I didn’t have to go far. My bathroom has two types of Colgate toothpastes both with Triclosan. I also have Dial Complete.

The New York Times article states that, “Richard Theiler, senior vice president for research and development at Henkel, the German-based manufacturer of Dial Complete, said there was no real evidence showing that triclosan was dangerous for humans. He also said that several recent studies had proved the effectiveness of triclosan in killing germs, and that those studies had been submitted to the federal regulators.

“It has been used now in products safely for decades,” Mr. Theiler said.

Colgate, however, continues to use triclosan in its Colgate Total toothpaste because it has been proved to fight gingivitis, a claim approved by the FDA.

“The safety and efficacy of Colgate Total toothpaste is fully supported by over 70 clinical studies in over 10,000 patients,” the company said in a statement.

However the National Institute of Health stated that triclosan “may negatively affect human immune function.”

Tom’s of Maine does not contain Triclosan according to their website. Perhaps my family should switch brands.

Last year, Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts, pressured the FDA to write regulations for antiseptic products like hand soap, including the use of triclosan. The process of creating regulations was started more than three decades ago, but has been repeatedly delayed. In the meantime, Mr. Markey has called for a ban on triclosan in hand soaps, in products that come in contact with food, and in products marketed to children.

“A lot of people mistakenly believe that if they buy something with a chemical in it that is antibacterial that it’s a plus,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “I think the marketing of these far outweighs the statements on FDA’s Web site, which most people don’t even go to.”

Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, the FDA deputy director for regulatory programs, said its review was primarily focused on hand soaps but could extend to other consumer products if the agency determined that triclosan raised health concerns. He said the FDA had determined that triclosan provided a benefit in Colgate Total, by fighting gingivitis, where triclosan in soap did not.

Posted in: Family safety