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EU consumer group calls for strict limits on triclosan

By Michelle Yeomans , 23-Oct-2012
Last updated on 23-Oct-2012 at 12:09 GMT

EU consumer group calls for strict limits on triclosan

The European Consumer Organisation (Beuc) has put forward to the European Commission for public consultation that the use of triclosan in cosmetic products be strictly limited to protect consumers’ health.

In a position paper, the organisation argues that the substance is a suspected endocrine disruptor and therefore needs to be limited in consumer products, especially cosmetics.  

We argue that triclosan which is used as an antimicrobial agent in cosmetics should not be present in most consumer products, particularly in cosmetics as these are applied directly to the skin - our argument is twofold.”

Twofold

In the paper Beuc outlines that the substance cannot be considered fully safe for human health as it is suspected to lead to the formation of antimicrobial resistances and disturb the hormonal system.

Secondly, it argues that the use of triclosan is not needed as preservative in cosmetics as there alternatives of lesser concern available.

Comparative product tests of consumer organisations show regularly that there are many products available in each category which do not use triclosan and which are not more expensive.”

Recently, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety’s (SCCS) ruled that the continued use of triclosan in all cosmetic products is not safe because of the magnitude of the aggregated exposure. But that in terms of deodorant sticks, face powder, blemish, concealer and nail-polish, it is considered to be okay in concentrations.

Health effects

According to Beuc, human health effects caused by exposure to triclosan are still unknown. However, latest scientific findings assume that the substance impairs muscle functions, including the heart.

"Researchers in the US exposed mice and fish to triclosan levels comparable to the levels humans are exposed to in daily life and found worrying results. The chemical had severe impact on the functioning of the heart and on other mussels of the mice."

In terms of endocrine disruption, the Environment Ministry and the Environmental Protection Agency of Denmark is said to have already recommended its consumers avoid products with triclosan, particularly pregnant women.

Recommendation

"We see a need for the Commission to act horizontally on triclosan, taking action on all consumer products," says an organisation spokesperson.

"Several national environmental protection agencies and/ or national risk assessment institutes recommend using no triclosan in consumer products and limiting its use only to applications in the medical environment. We are therefore calling on the Commission to regulate this substance in consumer articles in general and not only in cosmetics," they added.

Beuc is also calling on the EC to delete the following product categories from Annex V of the Cosmetics Regulation EC No. 1223/2009 with the aim to prevent the use of the substance as a preservative in cosmetics in the future including bath/ shower products, deodorants, face powders and blemish concealers, and nail products.

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