Although the European Union banned triclosan in materials that come into contact with food back in 2010 after tests linked the chemical to the growth of cancer cells and disrupted development in animals, federal regulators her in the US are continuing to review whether it’s safe to put in soap, cutting boards and toys, and even clothing materials. Triclosan is also a prime ingredient in Colgate’s top-selling toothpaste Total, used by millions of people here to ward off gum disease. Although the FDA approved its use in the toothpaste back in 1997, certain scientific findings regarding the chemical have only recently come to light, and the Minnesota legislature Minnesota voted in May to ban it in many products. In the meantime, Colgate-Palmolive continues to defend its use.
In addition, Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who specializes in how chemicals affect the endocrine system noted that “ triclosan’s potential impact on people are, by nature, unanswerable because humans are exposed to dozens of chemicals that may interact in the body, making it almost impossible to link one substance to one disease,” he stated.
This corresponds to a 2003 study conducted by the CDC, which reported that triclosan is showed up 75% of the urine samples taken from 2,517 American adults and children tested in 2003. The chemical, as well as related triclocarban was also detected in “90% of surface water samples from the Great Lakes and in a large number of fish species,” during a study by the Canadian Environmental Law Association just last month.
“We have created a system where we are testing these chemicals out on the human population. I love the idea they are all safe,” continued Zoeller. “But when we have studies on animals that suggest otherwise (including ones linking the chemical to reduced fertility in lab rats and well as certain bone deformities), I think we’re taking a huge risk.”
In the meantime, the government is continuing its investigation into both the irreparable health hazards, as well as antibacterial benefits of triclosan. It should also be noted that Colgate has not been accused of any wrongdoing in using the chemical in products previously approved by the FDA.