Why Won’t The FDA Ban This Dangerous Chemical from Our Toothpaste?
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally banned common antibacterial chemical, Triclosan from over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body washes. The decision is a result of repeated warnings and concerns from experts who say the antimicrobial chemicals found in these products, specifically Triclosan, contain carcinogens, can promote drug-resistant infections as well as disrupt hormone production.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
Triclosan was originally developed for hospitals in the ‘60s. By the ‘90s, Triclosan was a staple in many a household item, from soaps to sprays and everything in between that keeps a consumer’s home squeaky clean. The chemical was eventually banned from such products and consumers can even expect to see a marked absence of Triclosan and other harmful chemicals on store shelves. And while that’s a huge step in the right direction, many people were outraged to learn that Triclosan still isn’t banned from, wait for it, toothpaste.
If you’re scratching your head right now, we don’t blame you. This chemical has been deemed too dangerous for our floors, our furniture, our hands and bodies but according to Andrea Fischer, FDA spokeswoman, “Based on scientific evidence, the balance of benefit and risk [of Triclosan] is favorable for [toothpaste].” She went on to add, “Toothpastes that contain Triclosan have been demonstrated to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis.” However, the Natural Resources Defense Council thoroughly disagrees, saying Triclosan in toothpaste is “Arguably more dangerous than hand soap because of the mouth’s greater ability to absorb toxins.”
While, Colgate Total, America’s best-selling toothpaste, is currently the only toothpaste in the United States to contain the harmful chemical, parent company Colgate-Palmolive is evidently concerned enough to have removed Triclosan from their cleaners and soaps after the European Union banned it last year.
While consumers continue to cry out for a chemical-free household for them and their families, traces of Triclosan continue to turn up everywhere around (and within) us, from urine and human plasma, to water and even dust. While there are certainly plenty of Triclosan-free toothpastes out there, it’s only a matter of time before the voice of the consumer is heard and the FDA finally takes proper action. Here’s to hoping this nasty chemical is fully eradicated, and soon.
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