Environmental Defence urges consumers to avoid triclosan
TORONTO, May 16, 2012 /CNW/ - The first data on levels of the chemical triclosan were released today to reveal widespread body pollution in Canadian adults. Seven of eight people tested had the antibacterial chemical in their bodies—with levels higher than those toxic to fish and algae.
Environmental Defence, which conducted the test, says the high prevalence of the chemical means it's time to ban it from household use. This backs up an earlier call from Canadian Medical Association, due to fears its widespread use contributes to antibiotic-resistant "superbugs."
Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical originally used in medical settings. But now it is found in hundreds of products, including hand sanitizers, toothpaste, household items, makeup and even smartphone cases. This is worrisome given it is also a known endocrine disruptor—interfering with the human body's natural hormones. Many endocrine disruptors have been linked to thyroid problems and cancer.
The Environmental Defence report The Trouble with Triclosan can be downloaded at www.environmentaldefence.ca/troublewithtriclosan
"Mounting evidence has convinced doctors and scientists that this chemical is, in fact, harmful and should be banned from household use," said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence and co-author of the bestselling book on toxic products, Slow Death by Rubber Duck. "Today's data show how widespread the chemical is in our bodies. So consumers should do what they can to avoid products that contain it. Because the danger with triclosan isn't just the level of exposure, it's also the length of time someone is exposed."
"Environmental Defence believes that a ban on the household use of triclosan is good for human health and our environment. We congratulate the federal government on its first steps in dealing with the chemical, and look forward to the next ones," he said.
On March 30, Health Canada and Environment Canada published a preliminary assessment of triclosan on the Chemical Substances website, commencing a 60-day public comment period. The assessment declared that found it can cause harm to the environment.
Environmental Defence has long called for better controls on toxic chemicals such as triclosan, and has successfully advocated to ban BPA in baby bottles and phthalates in toys.
Now it's turning its attention to triclosan, which contaminates the environment as it is washed down drains to pollute rivers and lakes. It is toxic to fish, amphibians and rats, where it mimics thyroid hormones. This raises questions about its harm to human health. In addition, when it breaks down, it can produce the human carcinogens chloroform, and dioxins, one of the most toxic groups of substances known.
"Every time we wash our hands or brush our teeth with triclosan, more of this hormone-disrupting chemical goes down the drain. That's bad news for people and bad news for the environment and why it's time for a household ban," said Smith.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
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