Policy and Law
Chemical structure of 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol, better known as triclosan
By Tyler Irving
Posted June 2012
The federal government released its preliminary assessment report for triclosan on March 31, 2012. The report concludes that although the chemical poses no danger to human health, its possible risks to the environment, including its potential to accumulate in aquatic organisms, may require additional management measures.
Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol) is an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in over 1,600 personal care products, as well as treated materials such as rubber or plastic. The estimated human exposure is thousands of times smaller than that which causes health effects in laboratory animals, and under aerobic conditions triclosan breaks down quickly in air, water, soil and sediment. But since it’s so widely used, low levels of triclosan are present in the environment, particularly near wastewater treatment plants.
Triclosan is already on the federal government’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist, which restricts its concentration to 0.03 per cent or less in mouthwash and 0.3 per cent or less in other cosmetic products. In a statement, the Canadian Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association said the industry would be reviewing the science and was committed to working with the government and other stakeholders to address the environmental concerns. Meanwhile, Toronto-based Environmental Defence is pushing for an outright ban due to concerns over the potential of triclosan to act as an endocrine disruptor. In mid-May the group released a report in which they highlighted detectable levels of triclosan in the urine of several Canadian celebrities. In March 2010, the Canadian Medical Association issued a Public Health Issue Briefing calling for a ban on household antibacterial products - including those that contain triclosan - due to the potential for increased bacterial resistance. The triclosan assessment cites European and Australian studies that show no clear link between products containing triclosan and increased antibacterial resistance
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