221436 Triclosan: A case study in the emerging public health threat driven by the corporate proliferation of antibacterial consumer products

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM

Kathleen Dolan, MHS , Food and Water Watch, Washington, DC
This presentation will address the emerging public health threat driven by the corporate proliferation of antibacterial consumer products that contain triclosan.

Triclosan is an antibacterial pesticide widely used in hand soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, as well as in textiles, fabrics and plastics. It is also an emerging contaminant of concern for the general population, regulatory agencies and the wastewater community.

Consumers purchase antibacterial products with the expectation that the product will prevent illness. Yet, there is no conclusive evidence that antibacterial products prevent illness when used by the average consumer. In this way, the manufacturers of triclosan have misbranded these products.

This presentation will also address how these products are also adulterated as there are several known harms related to the environmental buildup of triclosan including bioaccumulation in algae, fish and higher-level marine animals such as dolphins. Additionally, there is a growing body of literature illustrating the endocrine disrupting effects of triclosan on humans, as well as other adverse public health threats. This presentation will focus on how the personal care products industry preys on consumer ignorance and germ phobia. The abundance of antibacterial products disproportionately affects women, especially female infants and teenagers. There will also be a discussion of the ways for the public health community to address this issue namely, by advocating for a precautionary approach to chemicals policy and increased inter-agency collaboration.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Review the history of triclosan as used in personal care products. 2. Describe the ways in which products containing triclosan are misbranded and adulterated. 3. Discuss grassroots efforts to reduce the public health threat posed by triclosan.

Keywords: Consumer Protection, Social Activism

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the triclosan campaign coordinator at Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy group shaping policy to preserve and protect public water resources.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.