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An undated photo of household goods that contain triclosan, from left, Prevail, Dial Complete, Softsoap, and Colgate Total in the foreground.

Fred R Conrad, New York Times

Antibacterial products are safe, healthful

  • Article by: BRIAN SANSONI
  • February 6, 2013 - 8:40 PM

Counterpoint

The Star Tribune's recent news coverage and editorial on the antibacterial chemical triclosan sensationalized misinformation about this oft-researched ingredient in health care and consumer products.

The fact is that millions of people use this ingredient in personal-hygiene products like antibacterial soaps and body washes safely and effectively every single day.

First off, the Jan. 22 article ("Cosmetics ingredient tainting state lakes") mischaracterized triclosan as an "antibiotic" being found in Minnesota waterways. There are no antibiotics in soaps and cosmetics. Antibiotics are prescription drugs that are used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

The Feb. 2 editorial ("Down the drain and into our lakes"), like some press releases from the research organizations, casually used words like "suggest" in trying to link the trace amounts of triclosan in the environment to human hormones in some way.

What the newspaper neglected to report is that research has shown that triclosan does not pose a risk to land or water environments, nor does it pose a threat of accumulation in food or drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency completed a very thorough review of the ingredient in a 2008 regulatory decision that formally reregistered triclosan for use in EPA-regulated products.

Regrettably, the editorial stated one of the biggest misconceptions about triclosan -- that use of this ingredient "may" lead to antibiotic resistance. Research, such as reported in a 2011 scientific paper in the International Journal of Microbiology Research, repeatedly affirms that the use of antibacterial wash products in the home setting does not contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Antibacterial soaps and washes are used as a part of common-sense hygiene routines in homes, hospitals, doctors' offices, day care centers, nursing homes, and countless other office and institutional settings.

Antibacterial products and their ingredients have stood the test of time through extensive research and testing. It's unfortunate that attempts are made to distort the safety of these products and ingredients contributing to better health.

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Brian Sansoni is vice president of communication for the American Cleaning Institute, an organization representing producers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products, their ingredients and packaging.

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