Lawmakers call for triclosan ban in personal care products


The next time you're in a grocery or drug store, pick up a bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap and take a look at the ingredients. Chances are, the soap has triclosan in it.

Triclosan is a common antimicrobial chemical used in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, body washes, cosmetics, and other personal care items. Some health and consumer groups worry about the effect that all of that triclosan exposure might have on people. Scientific research links the chemical to hormone disruption in animals and potentially to cancer cell growth.

But triclosan-containing personal care products are ultimately, by their nature, flushed down a drain. And as a result, the chemical is making its way into water bodies, which has environmental groups concerned. Right now, the New York League of Conservation Voters is campaigning  in support two bills in the State Legislature — S6636 and A9230 — which would curtail the sale of consumer products containing triclosan. The Legislature is in the final two months of its 2016 session, and the bills are pending in both chambers.

"When released into waterways, triclosan does what it was designed to do—kill bacteria," says an alert from the NYCLV. "It also interferes with photosynthesis in algae, reducing their reproduction and health. When the algae is out of balance in the food chain, entire ecosystems collapse."

The ban wouldn't apply to products sold to medical customers, and it also wouldn't effect consumer products with specific Food and Drug Administration approvals. Colgate Total toothpaste, for example, contains triclosan and in 1997 received FDA approval as, essentially, an over-the-counter anti-gingivitis drug.

The Assembly bill is sponsored by Democrat Michelle Schimel and the Senate bill by Republican Jack Martins.