WASHINGTON – January 14 – Today, the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides, a public health and environmental organization, submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ask it to ban non-medical uses of the antimicrobial pesticide triclosan. More than 70 organizations signed the petition, which also outlines ways in which triclosan violates numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, clean water, safe drinking water, and the Endangered Species Act.
Originally developed as an anti-bacterial agent for hospital settings, triclosan is monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA, and widely used in many consumer and household products ranging from dish soaps and detergents to soaps, toothpastes, deodorants and more.
“Scientific studies indicate that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “EPA needs to ban its use in non-medical settings and stop allowing companies that market triclosan to exploit consumer fears regarding bacterial-born illnesses, Evidence suggests that triclosan is not effective for many of its intended benefits, and through its presence in an array of products that consumers use every day, may actually be doing more harm than good.”
Chief among triclosan’s health effects is resistance to antibiotic medications and bacterial cleansers, a problem for all people, but especially vulnerable populations such as infants and the elderly. Triclosan is also a known endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which could potentially increase risk for cancer.
Exposure to triclosan is widespread and now found in the urine of 75 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, published by the Centers for Disease Control. Due to the fact that many products containing triclosan are washed down the drain, triclosan shows up in water systems and sewage sludge. Accumulation of the pesticide in waterways and soil has been shown to threaten ecosystems and produce hazardous residues in fish and other marine animals, and potentially contaminate food crops.
“Given its widespread environmental contamination and public health risks, EPA has a responsibility to ban household triclosan use in a marketplace where safer alternatives are available to manage bacteria,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
In July, Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides submitted a similar petition to FDA making the argument that triclosan violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Earlier this month, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) submitted letters to EPA and FDA urging them to reevaluate their oversight of the pesticide.
Beyond Pesticides, founded in 1981 as the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, is a national community-based organization of grassroots groups and individuals, which bridges environment, health, urban and rural concerns to: (i) stimulate widespread education on the hazards of toxic pesticides, and the availability of effective alternative pest management approaches in the context of protecting the public’s health; (ii) influence decision makers responsible for pest management to use safe methods through grassroots action; and, (iii) encourage the adoption of local, state and national policies that stringently restrict pesticide use and promote alternative approaches that respect health and the environment. Beyond Pesticides: 701 E Street, SE, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20003. 202-543-5450 email@example.com www.beyondpesticides.org
Food & Water Watch is a non-profit organization working with grassroots organizations around the world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Through research, public and policymaker education, media, and lobbying, we advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food produced in a humane and sustainable manner and public, rather than private, control of water resources including oceans, rivers, and groundwater. For more information, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.