In a landmark (and long overdue) announcement, the Food and Drug Administration on September 2, 2016, issued a final rule addressing the safety and efficacy of certain ingredients marketed in over-the-counter (OTC, e.g., non-prescription) hand and body washes. Nineteen specific active ingredients have been declared by the FDA based on their review of the data to be no more effective than soap and water in reducing infections. Of huge significance was the ruling that will no longer allow the marketing of products containing Triclosan and Triclocarban, which the FDA acknowledges “could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.” More from the FDA press release here.
EPHC was part of a team that pulled together academic researchers and representatives from the CDC, FDA and EPA at the Pacific Southwest Organic Residuals Symposium (PORS) at UC Davis in October of 2008, the first time these agencies had met and reviewed the topic of triclosan and triclocarban’s impacts on human health and appearance in the environment, including in sewage sludge applied to cropland. Many advocacy colleagues in subsequent years, including NRDC, the Safe Cosmetics Campaign and Food and Water Watch were critical in keeping FDA’s feet to the fire on this issue. Concerns remain around the widespread use of quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats” in both household and institutional cleaning; there is clear evidence that quats have already contributed to antibiotic resistance in the environment. The FDA has allowed another year for data-gathering on two quats used in OTC hand washes.