(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2012) The University of Texas (UT) Student Government body unanimously passed a resolution last month to ban soap containing the toxic antibacterial chemical triclosan throughout campus.
If the ban is accepted by the
University administration, UT would be the first university in the
country to take an official stance against one of the most prevalent and
dangerous antibacterial products available. Triclosan, which can be
found in many personal care products, has been linked to numerous human
and environmental health effects. Recently the Canadian government declared triclosan as an environmental toxin, proposing regulations to restrict its use.
Student Government (SG) representative and public affairs graduate
student Robert Love, who initiated the ban, says that officials in
several different campus purchasing departments are open to phasing out
antibacterial soap. For financial and environmental reasons, the
University phased out the use of the triclosan-containing soap in
restrooms across campus in 2008; however, it is still being used in
other places on campus. According to a university spokeswoman, a
campus-wide phase out would require an official decision.
“What we’re saying is we need an outright ban on campus, and we need
to kind of make a bold statement,” said urban studies senior and SG
representative John Lawler in a statement to The Daily Texan. “In a lot of places it’s not being banned; it’s not being considered a harmful chemical.”
has been called into as a result of numerous studies, despite the fact
that triclosan is marketed as a germ-killing substance. To the contrary,
there is evidence that the widespread use of antibacterial compounds
promote the emergence of bacterial resistance, which may actually contribute to greater vulnerability to bacteria.
In a comment to The Statesman
about the possibility of illness spreading on campus after
antibacterial soap is phased out, Mr. Love said, “The science doesn’t
support that. The science shows that antibacterial soap is no more
effective than regular soap and water … outside of extreme conditions of
Public Radio International’s Living on Earth recently interviewed Beyond Pesticides research associate Nichelle Harriott about the toxicity of triclosan (download the show).
Beyond Pesticides in 2004 began voicing concern about the dangers of triclosan and in 2009 and 2010 submitted petitions
to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which call for the removal of
triclosan from consumer products.
Since then, many major companies are
quietly and quickly removing triclosan
from their products. After opening the petition for public comment in
2011, over 10,000 individuals told EPA via email and docketed comments
to ban triclosan. Additionally, scores of public health and advocacy
groups, local state departments of health and the environment, as well
as municipal and national wastewater treatment agencies, submitted
comments requesting an end to triclosan in consumer products.
Take Action: Encourage your community go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution
that establishes a commitment to not procuring or using products
containing triclosan. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Ban Triclosan page.
Sources: The Statesman and The Daily Texan