NEW YORK (CN) – An environmental group says the widespread use of over-the-counter “antibacterial” soaps exposes users to dangerous chemicals, but the Food and Drug Administration continues to misbrand them as safe. The National Resources Defense Council claims in federal court that the FDA reported the chemicals triclosan or triclocarbon were found in 76 percent of 395 liquid soaps, but has still failed to ban such soaps or brand them as hazardous.
The chemicals, present in everything from hand soaps and surgical scrubs to antiseptics and skin wound cleansers, have been known to lower sperm count, disrupt testosterone production and damage both reproductive organs and thyroid hormone levels, a decrease in which can lead to a low IQ, learning disorders and memory problems. Both can be absorbed through the human skin.
The complaint also cites a 2003-2004 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found triclosan in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of six.
The NRDC notes in its complaint that more than three decades have passed since the FDA proposed to regulate antiseptics and soaps containing triclosan and triclocarbon through a monograph establishing conditions under which the products could be considered safe.
But it has been over 30 years since the FDA’s proposal, and the majority of consumer antibacterial soaps still contain the harmful chemicals.
The NRDC claims it met with FDA senior staff members twice in 2009 to “ascertain the agency’s timeline for finalizing the monograph. The FDA did not provide a definitive timeframe during those meetings.”
The NRDC wants the court to declare the FDA’s delay in finalizing the monograph unreasonable and illegal and that it be ordered to finalize it within 90 days. It is represented by Mitchell Bernard.