Dispatch: FDA on Triclosan

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The FDA announced yesterday that it will review the safety of triclosan, a widely used antibacterial agent found in soap, much to the gratification of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has been urging the FDA to review triclosan on the basis of its hormonal effects on lab rodents.

According to the Daily Green, “The FDA’s statement and update to its website information was in response to inquiries from Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) earlier this year. ‘It’s in our drinking water, it’s in our rivers and as a result, it’s in our bodies,’ Markey told the Washington Post. ‘I don’t think a lot of additional data has to be collected in order to make the simple decisions about children’s toys and soaps that people use. It clearly is something that creates a danger.’”

“NRDC is fretting about triclosan’s health effects on laboratory rodents,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “And when environmental activists agitate about alleged toxins or carcinogens in consumer products, there is always a congressman involved -- in this case Rep. Edward Markey -- who says, ‘The children are at risk; why take chances?’ It seems like this FDA will kowtow to any activist pressure.”

“Well, the FDA had to say something,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “The NRDC says it’s bad, Rep. Markey says the children are in danger, and they have a study showing that it causes abnormalities in rats, so they agreed to review it.”

“The main point here is that the FDA now has a reputation for caving to pressure from activist groups,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “For example, the January BPA decision, although it did not ban BPA, threw many bones to the activists by saying the agency had ‘concerns’ and the topic needs more study.”