This statement is sure to add pressure to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has been running an ongoing scientific review of the chemical’s use.
Markey, chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in US, raised alarm over the use of tricoslan, which is used in many cosmetic products, ranging from toothpastes, to soaps. He said, “Despite the fact that this chemical is found in everything from soaps to socks, there are many troubling questions about tricoslan’s effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children”.
In a series of recommendations, he also urged the FDA to “quickly finalize its regulations in order to ban the use of tricoslan in personal care products” and set a mandate to the FDA to act more quickly and come to a final decision on the use of the chemical “well before 2013”. He also specifically demanded that the FDA re-evaluate its approval of the use of triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste.
Markey’s concerns about the use of triclosan reflect a significant amount of recent public and media concern on both sides of the Atlantic. Lobby groups have claimed that scientific studies have linked the chemical to endocrine system disruption, cancer and increased dermal sensitisation.
Recently, according to Markey, it has been stated that tricoslan has been found to increase antibiotic resistance, which could lead to increased infection. In light of these new findings, he has urged for the re-evaluation of the chemicals use in toothpaste specifically.
FDA say there is not enough evidence either way
The FDA has released a statement in response to Markey’s alarm. Although it has expressed concern over recent animal studies which have shown that tricoslan alters hormone regulation, it has also said that it is too early to make a final judgement. “Data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans”, it said.
In direct response to Markey’s charges the FDA stated, “In 1997, the FDA reviewed extensive effectiveness data on tricoslan in Colgate Total toothpaste. The evidence showed that tricoslan in this product was effective in preventing gingivitis.”
No benefit over soap and water
In spite of these reassurances, the FDA also issued a consumer advise statement, which recommended that although ‘the FDA does not currently have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain tricoslan at this time’, it also did ‘not have evidence that tricoslan added to soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water’.
Consumers can therefore avoid the ingredient, the FDA infers, without losing any health benefits.
Re-fuel public concern
This latest statement both from Representative Markey and the FDA will re-fuel the public concern over the use of triclosan in personal care products.
In September 2008, International NGO ChemSec listed triclosan among a total of 267 chemical ingredients which it felt were of ‘high concern’, urging companies to find alternatives in the cosmetics industry. European companies such as Symrise have already developed an alternative to use in anti-bacterial deodorants.
It will also, no doubt, add a sense of urgency to the FDA ongoing scientific review of the use of triclosan. In response to Markey’s mandate, the FDA stated that it would deliver the findings of its review to the public in the Spring of 2011.