FDA Raises Safety Concerns on Antibacterial Soaps - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

FDA Raises Safety Concerns on Antibacterial Soaps

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The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks.
 
The federal ruling on triclosan and other antibacterial ingredients lends new support to longstanding warnings from scientists who say the chemicals can interfere with hormone levels. 
 
Under a proposed rule, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial cleaners are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. 
 
The agency's proposal comes more than 40 years after the agency was first tasked with evaluating triclosan and similar ingredients. Ultimately, the government agreed to publish its findings only after a legal battle with an environmental group, which accused the FDA of delaying action.

More than 93 percent of bar soaps also contain triclocarban or triclosan, according to the FDA.

While the rule only applies to personal hygiene products, it has implications for a broader $1 billion industry that includes thousands of anti-bacterial products, including kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and toothpaste. Over the last 20 years, companies have added triclosan and other cleaners to thousands of household products, touting their germ-killing benefits.

The FDA was tasked with confirming those benefits in 1972, as part of a law designed to set guidelines for dozens of common anti-bacterial cleaners. But the guidelines got bogged down in years of regulatory delays and missed deadlines. The agency published a preliminary draft of its findings in 1978, but never finalized the results until Monday.

Most of the research surrounding triclosan's safety involves laboratory animals, including studies in rats that showed changes in testosterone, estrogen and thyroid hormones. Some scientists worry that such changes in humans could raise the risk of infertility, early puberty and even cancer.

FDA scientists stressed Monday that such studies are not necessarily applicable to humans, but the agency is reviewing their implications. (AP)

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