Avoid soaps with triclosan and triclocarban – PH health activists

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PHILIPPINE health activists urged the public to stop using anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers with triclosan and triclocarban after United States health authorities found them to be actually harmful to health and the environment.

In a press conference Monday, the Philippine based EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environment and public health watchdog; said antibacterial soaps with triclosan and triclocarban are no more effective that plain soap and water in reducing diseases. It added that this is why the US Food and Drug Administration is set to ban on Sept. 6, these antiseptic wash products from the American market.

In light of such policy, Eco-Waste is calling on Filipino consumers to use their buying power and only patronize products that are free of triclosan, triclocarban and other chemicals of concern to influence soap and antiseptic manufacturing companies to switch to safer and more environment friendly formulations.

At the same time, EcoWast Coalition also appealed to companies, both foreign and local, to phase out the use and sale of consumer products containing triclosan and triclocarban starting with over-the-counter antibacterial soaps and washes.

Rene Pineda, a member of EcoWaste Coalition, said triclosan and triclocarban are among the 19 antibacterials being banned by the US federal agency “because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

He added that the biggest use of triclosan and triclocarban are in antibacterial soaps, hand and body washes and related products that are discharged in wastewater drains.

“Disposed of in residential drains, these chemicals, which are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, can accumulate in water bodies, affect the balance of the fragile marine ecosystems and result in hazardous residues in fish that we eat,” he said.

Another concern that Pineda highlighted is that these chemicals could be transformed into chloroform and dioxin compounds with exposure to sunlight or when interacting with chemicals such as chlorine in tap water.

Dr. Ann Blake, a visiting public health and environmental expert from US who spoke at the event, pointed out “studies have indicated increased evidence of both health and environmental harm linked to the use and disposal of triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban, with no benefit to humans and the ecosystems.”

Antibacterials (including triclosan, triclocarban) and quaternary ammonium products (“quats”) are medical disinfectants that have been increasingly added to a variety of personal care and household cleaning products.

“The claim of supposed ‘antibacterial protection’ from the use of such products is not backed up by scientific evidence.  Plain soap and water work better in reducing infection and disease,” Blake said.

“These antibacterials are often marketed as a way to protect consumers from ‘superbugs’when in fact they contribute to antibiotic resistance,” she said, adding that “superbugs originate from the use of ‘preventive’ dosing of antibiotics in industrial meat production for cows, pigs and chickens,” she said.

For better health and hygiene, Blake and Pineda stressed the importance of washing hands frequently with ordinary soap and water to wash away harmful bacteria, especially when preparing food, before eating, after going to the toilet, and when a member of the family is sick.

The group last week conducted test buys of antibacterial soaps and washes and found many products listing triclosan or triclocarban among their ingredients. It, however, noted that leading manufacturers including Avon, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Unilever have phased out triclosan and triclocarban and reformulated products containing these antibacterials.

Beyond Deadlines
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