241762 Consumer opposition to the proliferation of triclosan in personal care products: A public awareness campaign and the corporate response

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 4:30 PM

Kathleen Dolan, MHS , Food and Water Watch, Washington, DC
This presentation will summarize the current consumer, regulatory and corporate actions surrounding the proliferation of the antibacterial pesticide triclosan.

U.S. consumers spend an estimated $1 billion per year on “antibacterial” soaps and other household products, many of which contain triclosan. It is estimated that 76 percent of liquid soaps and 29 percent of bar soaps on the market contain triclosan.

Consumers seek out antibacterial products with the belief that these products provide added protection from illness. Yet, there is no evidence that antibacterial products are more effective in preventing illness than non-antibacterial products.

Research published between 2008 and 2011 demonstrates the many ways triclosan negatively impacts public and environmental health. The abundance of antibacterial products disproportionately affects pregnant women, fetuses, infants and children. What has emerged is a clearer picture of how triclosan has become ubiquitous in the human population, the environment and subsequently the food chain.

This presentation will reveal how consumer advocacy and environmental groups elevated public awareness of this chemical. The presentation will explain the role of consumers and policymakers to bring about regulatory action. Additionally, the audience will learn about the FDA's Spring 2011 analysis of triclosan and subsequent decisions about its regulation. The presentation will also explore the strategy employed by the personal care products industry in the face of growing consumer mistrust and the threat of tighter regulations.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe advocacy efforts to abate the public health threat posed by triclosan. 2. Discuss how consumer education can bring about regulatory action. 3. Examine corporate reactions to consumer opposition and regulatory mandates.

Keywords: Advocacy, Consumer Protection

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the public health policy analyst 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.