DENTAL NEWS: Controversial antibacterial ingredient now linked to inflammation and cancer


In the early 1970s, the chemical triclosan began to appear in a multitude of products. From soaps and toothpastes to cleaning supplies and pesticides, triclosan was reportedly an effective antibacterial and antifungal compound. 



Pretty much immediately after it started appearing in household products, the FDA commenced investigating the chemical's safety profile, but it wasn't until 2016 that it established a final, clear regulation.


This 2016 FDA regulation effectively banned triclosan, and 18 other compounds, from consumer antiseptic wash products such as hand soap. The strangely limited regulation still allowed the chemical to be used in hand wipes or sanitizers and toothpastes with the only substantial comment at the time coming from Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, saying "Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water."

Over the years, a growing body of evidence has come to suggest that triclosan is not only harmful to humans, but also to the broader environment. Initial studies pointed to concerns over the chemical acting as an endocrine disrupter in humans and also increasing the prominence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.