Triclosan: A Long Awaited Decline

Triclosan: A Long Awaited Decline

The much maligned and scrutinized antimicrobial, triclosan, may soon be off the market. Some manufacturers that use triclosan as an additive in products like hand soaps, shampoos, lotions, and toothpaste have removed the chemical from their products.  However, the chemical’s disappearance has been slow and has left the wary consumer skeptical that regulatory changes on a federal level would ever happen.

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan is an antimicrobial compound that has been used in a variety of personal care products, including deodorant, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, and antibacterial soaps. Manufacturers have also added triclosan to textile and plastic products to provide protection from bacterial contamination. Its prevalence in consumer products has increased since the 1970s. However, as time went on, triclosan began to be suspected of a range of health and environmental issues, including endocrine disruption and the production of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Commercial Withdrawal and Alternative Biocides

In 2012, Johnson and Johnson announced its plans to phase triclosan out of the company’s products by 2015, marking the beginning of a movement to withdraw the chemical. Proctor and Gamble followed suit in 2013, announcing it would remove triclosan and diethyl phthalate from its line of products by 2014. In 2016, Walmart publicly announced that it had requested suppliers to remove triclosan and seven other chemicals from the products sold in the company’s stores.

While many companies have not divulged whether or not they are replacing the active ingredient with a less harmful alternative, some are exploring natural alternatives which may include pine oil and other plant-based biocides. Still other companies have announced replacements for triclosan with an alternative biocidal active ingredient, such as Dial phasing out triclosan in their products in favor of benzalkonium chloride.

FDA Ban in Antibacterial Soaps

Although Minnesota’s state legislature passed a bill in 2014 to ban triclosan, there hadn’t been significant governmental regulation barring the ingredient on a federal level until September 2016, when the FDA announced it would no longer allow the use of 19 chemicals, including triclosan, in over-the-counter consumer antibacterial hand and body washes. The FDA determined that these chemicals did not provide any additional antibacterial effect when compared to normal soap and water.  Manufacturers can still use triclosan in soap products made specifically for medical applications and it is still approved for use in toothpaste and other personal care products. However, it is expected that demand for triclosan in cosmetics products will significantly decline, providing an opportunity for other biocides in both soaps and other applications.

For More Information

While it is likely triclosan will have a continued place in some consumer markets, its widespread use may be coming to an end. For more information on triclosan and other biocides in the US market, check out The Freedonia Group’s industry study Biocides Market in the US, which offers:

  • Historical data and forecasts
  • Demand based on product, application, and market
  • Market share of major industry players

About the Author:

Daniel Debelius is an industry analyst at The Freedonia Group, where he writes industry studies focused on US chemical market.

  Chemicals      Industry Studies