Toxic Pesticide in Summertime Soaps
Bath & Body Works markets products containing hazardous chemical to teens while other companies phase it out
(San Francisco) Today health and environmental groups urged retailer Bath & Body Works to stop selling its line of "summertime scent" soaps that contain triclosan, a toxic chemical categorized as a pesticide because of its antimicrobial properties. The line, which includes products with names like "Tangelo Orange Twist" and "Sugar Lemon Fizz," is marketed to teens using the slogan "spread love, not germs." Advocates are concerned that this toxic chemical, which has been linked to hormone disruption, is particularly hazardous to teens whose bodies are still developing.
Triclosan has also been linked to the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and antibacterial products. Along with its negative health effects, triclosan also impacts the environment, ending up in lakes, rivers and other water sources, where it is toxic to aquatic life. Despite its widespread use as a germ-killer in consumer products, triclosan is no more effective than soap and water at preventing illness or eliminating germs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, is currently updating its 2008 assessment of triclosan based on new science showing thyroid and estrogen effects.
"A chemical like triclosan that can disrupt hormones and may affect fetal growth and development does not belong in our soap," said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, "especially since studies show that triclosan is no more effective at preventing illness or removing germs than soap and water."
In light of health and environmental concerns, major companies including Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal, The Body Shop and Staples have said they are no longer using or have policies to not use triclosan. Colgate-Palmolive has eliminated triclosan from its dish-washing liquids and Softsoap hand soaps, but continues to use the chemical in its Total brand toothpastes.
"Thanks to the companies that are recognizing it is unwise and unnecessary to expose their customers to triclosan, the market is starting to move away from this hazardous chemical. But we are disappointed that companies like Bath & Body Works continue to sell products containing this toxic chemical, especially those marketed to teenagers," said Archer.
The Campaign, along with the Center for Environmental Health, sent an alert today to tens of thousands of supporters, demanding that Bath & Body Works join other market leaders in eliminating triclosan from their products.
More than 2,500 consumers have signed the Campaign's Triclosan-Free Pledge, agreeing not to buy products containing the chemical. More than 7,000 have people sent messages to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to take action to protect people from triclosan exposure.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of more than 150 nonprofit organizations working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Core members include: Clean Water Action, the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and Women’s Voices for the Earth.