Toronto, ON – Today the federal government announced its preliminary screening assessment of triclosan, an anti-bacterial chemical that has been shown to be toxic to fish and wildlife and which many scientists and doctors suspect of being damaging to human health. This is an important step forward in protecting the environment and human health from toxic substances.
Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical used in hundreds of products, from hand sanitizers to makeup and even smartphone cases. The Canadian Medical Association has called for it to be banned from consumer products, and the American Medical Association has recommended consumers avoid products containing triclosan, out of concern that it may be contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs”. Triclosan is also a known endocrine disruptor — interfering with the human body’s natural hormones. Many endocrine disruptors have been linked to thyroid problems and cancer.
“Triclosan is modern-day snake oil. It is not a terribly effective antibacterial agent, and mounting evidence has convinced doctors and medical professionals that this chemical is, in fact, harmful and should be banned from household use,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence and co-author of the bestselling book on toxic products, Slow Death by Rubber Duck. “Environmental Defence believes that a ban on the household use of triclosan is in the best interest of both the health of Canadians and the Canadian environment, and we congratulate the federal government on moving forward in its assessment of the chemical.”
Environmental Defence has long called for better controls on toxic chemicals such as triclosan, and has successfully advocated to ban BPA in baby bottles and phthalates in toys.
Triclosan contaminates the environment, washing down drains to pollute rivers and lakes. The chemical has been shown to be toxic to fish, amphibians, and rats, and it mimics thyroid hormones, raising questions about the impact exposure is having on human health. In addition to the effects of triclosan itself, its breakdown products include the human carcinogens chloroform, and dioxins, one of the most toxic groups of substances known.
“Every time we wash our hands or brush our teeth with triclosan, more of this hormone-disrupting chemical goes down the drain, resulting in the pollution of waterways which not only impacts our physical environment and animal life, but also human health,” said Smith.
On March 30, the preliminary assessment of triclosan was published on the Chemical Substances website, commencing a 60-day public comment period. The assessment incorporates activities under two legislative authorities: the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA).
“We strongly urge the government build on its ground-breaking assessment and ban triclosan from household use and we look forward to working closely with the government on the next phase of this process,” Smith continued.
Today, Environmental Defence launched an online petition to demonstrate public support for a ban on tricolsan. The petition can be found here:
To find out more about triclosan and how to avoid this toxic chemical, download Environmental Defence’s Toxic Nation guide to triclosan here:
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell);