Late 2016 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) began a process to ban the use of 19 ingredients, such as triclosan and triclcarbon, from soaps and cleaners.
"Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections," the FDA said in a statement.
Companies were given one year to put together alternative ingredients. "Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
In addition, Soap manufacturers were given a year to study the effects of benzalkonium chloride, benzenthonium chloride, and chloroxylenol which were proposed as an alternative to prove they are safe ingredients as well.
"If the product makes antibacterial claims, chances are pretty good that it contains one of these ingredients," Theresa Michele, director of the FDA's Division of Nonprescription Drug Products.
There is some evidence that triclosan, triclocarban and the other chemicals can disrupt hormone cycles and cause muscle weakness, says Mae Wu, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who originally asked the FDA to ban the ingredients. The ban applies only to consumer products, not to antibacterial soaps used in hospitals and food service settings.
In total, the FDA has banned 19 anti-bacterial ingredients, stating "For these ingredients, either no additional data were submitted or the data and information that were submitted were not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective."
FDA list of the newly banned chemicals in antibacterial soaps:
- Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
- Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
- Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
- Poloxamer-iodine complex
- Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
- Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
- Methylbenzethonium chloride
- Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)
- Phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16
- Secondary amyltricresols
- Sodium oxychlorosene
- Triple dye
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