At a side-event to the DIOXIN2016 conference in Florence, Italy, in August 2016, a draft “Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban” was discussed, adopted and signed by more than 200 scientists and medical doctors who were concerned about the continued widespread use of the chlorinated antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban used as antimicrobials, a class of chemicals present in >2,000 products including soaps, toothpastes, detergents, clothing, toys, carpets, plastics, and paints.
Triclosan structure formula
Triclocarban structure formula
In personal care products like hand soap, there is no evidence that use of triclosan or triclocarban improves consumer or patient health or prevents disease.
Triclosan and triclocarban used in consumer products end up in the environment and have been detected in a wide variety of matrices worldwide.
Triclosan and triclocarban persist in the environment and are a source of toxic and carcinogenic compounds including dioxins, chloroform, and chlorinated anilines.
Triclosan, triclocarban, and their transformation products and byproducts bioaccumulate in aquatic plants and animals, and triclosan partitions into human blood and breast milk.
Triclosan and triclocarban have detrimental effects on aquatic organisms.
Humans are exposed to triclosan and triclocarban through direct contact with personal care products and from other sources including food, drinking water, and dust.
Triclosan has been detected in the urine of a majority of humans tested.
Triclosan and triclocarban are endocrine disruptors and are associated with reproductive and developmental impacts in animal and in vitro studies. Potential implications for human reproduction and development are of concern and merit further study.
Human epidemiology and animal studies suggest triclosan exposure can increase sensitivity to allergens.
Overuse of triclosan may contribute to antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance and may modify the microbiome.
In the Statement it is recommended:
- To avoid the use of triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobial chemicals except where they provide an evidencebased health benefit (e.g., physician-prescribed toothpaste for treating gum disease) and there is adequate evidence demonstrating they are safe.
- Where antimicrobials are necessary, use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems.
- Label all products containing triclosan, triclocarban, and other antimicrobials, even in cases where no health claims are made.
- Evaluate the safety of antimicrobials and their transformation products throughout the entire product life cycle, including manufacture, long-term use, disposal, and environmental release.
The background for the widespread use of triclosan in toothpaste was developed by Golgate-Palmolive’s Dr. Abdul Gaffar, who in 2005 was awarded by the American Chemical Society as 1 of 18 “Heroes of Chemistry” for his work with antibacterials (Chemical & Engineering News 2005;83 (39) Sept 26:48-50).