Issue Date: February 4, 2013
Good Riddance, Triclosan
I read with interest the announcement that Johnson & Johnson plans to remove certain chemicals of concern, including the antibacterial triclosan, from its consumer products by the end of 2015 (C&EN, Aug. 20, 2012, page 14).
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, triclosan is among the most frequently detected organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es011055j). The Food & Drug Administration reports that triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans, but animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation, and other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics (fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm206222.pdf). Triclosan is a hydrophobic ionogenic organic chemical. Its ability to exhibit substantial hydrophobicity even in the ionized state (pKa = 7.8) complicates its analysis and removal by wastewater treatment (Environ. Chem., DOI: 10.1071/en06045).
I am pleased with J&J’s decision to remove selected chemicals of concern from their products, including triclosan in particular. Thank you for reporting this news.
Martha J. M. Wells
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