A chemical called triclosan, an active ingredient in toothpaste, hand soaps, even in cutting boards, bath tubs, shoes and shopping carts, has been associated with the growth of cancer cells and development problems in animals. Some of these problems include fetal bone malformation in rats, reduced fertility in mice, and malformed legs in frogs.
Some companies have removed triclosan from their products’ ingredients, while some states in America such as Minnesota have already banned it.
However, the chemical is still out in the market as an ingredient of a popular toothpaste variant from a large consumer products company. Because of triclosan’s antimicrobial benefits and properties, it is used in toothpaste in order to ward off plaque, gingivitis or gum disease.
Critics have pointed out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which governs the screening of personal care products, is responsible for letting triclosan find its way to shelves once again.
The FDA says triclosan can be found in “clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys. It also may be added to antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics.”
Though the toothpaste brand in question submitted a 35-page toxicology report to the FDA, and even with findings showing adverse effects in animals, the product was still approved for mass production and selling. Prior to this, they applied five times from 1992 to 1997 before they were finally awarded approval by the FDA. The toothpaste brand further defended the safety of its product, saying that triclosan can only increase the risk for cancer in large doses.
In response to the investigation by Bloomberg.com, the FDA has clarified on its website, fda.gov, that it does “not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time,” that they are conducting a “comprehensive scientific and regulatory review” on triclosan as used in consumer products.