FDA Bans Triclosan and 18 Other Chemicals Used In Antibacterial Soaps

Image: Flickr Arlington County

By Staff | Beauty
Posted Sep 2, 2016

In a surprising ruling, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a rule banning the use of triclosan, triclocarban and 17 other chemicals in hand and body washes deciding that consumers don’t need to use antibacterial soaps. And in fact, some may even be dangerous: we noted in the Magnifeco book that triclosan  has been shown to interfere with thyroid signaling and male and female sex hormone signaling (endocrine disruption) (page 15).

Companies have one year to take these ingredients out of their products or remove the products from the market, the FDA said.

“If the product makes antibacterial claims, chances are pretty good that it contains one of these ingredients,” Theresa Michele, director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, stated Friday in a conference call with reporters.

Many companies have already started phasing out these ingredients, especially after the FDA issued a proposed rule in 2013 that required companies to provide data on products’ safety and effectiveness.

Many companies have replaced triclosan with one of three other chemicals — benzalkonium chloridebenzethonium chloride or chloroxylenol (PCMX) — in their antibacterial products. The FDA has given companies another year to provide more data on their safety and effectiveness.

NPR reports “There is some evidence that triclosan, triclocarban and the other chemicals can disrupt hormone cycles and cause muscle weakness, says Mae Wu, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which originally asked the FDA to ban the ingredients.”

The rule is part of a broader effort by the FDA to encourage consumers to give antibacterial soaps a pass and simply use regular soap and water.

“There’s no data demonstrating that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” the agency said in a press release issued shortly after the rule was announced.

The ban applies only to consumer products, not to antibacterial soaps used in hospitals and food service settings.

Here is a list of the newly banned chemicals:

  • Cloflucarban
  • Fluorosalan
  • Hexachlorophene
  • Hexylresorcinol
  • Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
  • Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
  • Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
  • Poloxamer-iodine complex
  • Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
  • Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
  • Methylbenzethonium chloride
  • Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)
  • Phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16
  • Secondary amyltricresols
  • Sodium oxychlorosene
  • Tribromsalan
  • Triclocarban
  • Triclosan
  • Triple dye


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