Sunday, February 6, 2011

EcoWaste Coalition backs Senate inquiry on anti-microbial chemicals

A proposal by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago for a Senate inquiry on anti-microbial chemical ingredients used in soaps and a wide range of consumer products has won the backing of a non-governmental toxic watchdog.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting consumer awareness and vigilance against toxic chemicals, threw its support behind Senate Resolution 327 that Senator Santiago introduced recently.

In calling for “an inquiry in aid of legislation,” Senator Santiago cited “recent scientific findings (indicating) that the antimicrobial compounds triclosan and triclocarban are hazardous to health and the environment.”

“We ask our senators to act on Senator Santiago’s proposal in light of new evidence showing that the rampant use of pesticides and biocides such as triclosan in consumer products leads to adverse health and environmental problems,” said Roy Alvarez, president, EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that public interest groups in U.S. led by Beyond Pesticides and the Food & Water Watch have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban triclosan to protect the consumers, workers and the ecosystems. Through the Federal Register, the EPA has given the public until February 7, 2011 to comment on the need to ban triclosan.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antimicrobial chemicals added to personal and household products to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mildew, and also to deodorize.

These anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents are found in body and hand soaps, deodorants, detergents, fabric softeners, toothpastes and other products such as fabrics, facial tissues, kitchenware, medical devices, plastics and toys.

To justify the proposed Senate inquiry, Santiago cited the study by Arizona State University Associate Prof. Rolf Halden and his team of researchers showing that “triclosan and triclocarban first aggregate in wastewater sludge and are transferred to soils and natural water environments where they were observed to persist for months or years.”

The same study showed that “the accumulation of these antimicrobials in the environment is exerting selective pressure on microorganisms exposed to them, thereby increasing the likelihood that a super-bug, resistant to the very antimicrobials developed to kill them, will emerge -- with potentially dire consequences for human health.”


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