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Report calls for ban on 2 antibacterials

By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

 | Jul 10, 2014 - 11:20 AM |
A bottle of Dawn Ultra antibacterial soap in a kitchen in Chicago on April 30, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kiichiro Sato

A bottle of Dawn Ultra antibacterial soap in a kitchen in Chicago on April 30, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kiichiro Sato

TORONTO - A new report says Canada should ban two antibacterial chemicals which are found in a host of consumer products ranging from hand soaps to plastic food containers.

The report, from Canadian Environmental Law Association, also suggests Canada, the United States and all provinces and states bordering the Great Lakes should prohibit use of the chemicals which have been found extensively in the important waterway.

The two products are triclosan and triclocarban, which are used alone and together in products such as toothpaste, body washes, bar soap and even clothing.

Late last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it was reconsidering the safety of antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial personal care products because of concerns the chemicals may disrupt human hormones and contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.

And in May, Minnesota made headlines when it banned triclosan.

The report calls triclosan a chemical of high concern and triclocarban a chemical that should be replaced with safer alternatives.

Those rankings were based on an analysis the group conducted using a tool called the greenshield assessment. It measures the chemicals' impact against 18 human health and environmental issues, such as whether there is evidence they cause reproductive toxicity, endocrine activity, eye irritation or skin sensitivity. It also looks at whether the chemicals are flammable and whether they accumulate in the environment.

Roughly 1,600 products containing triclosan are sold in Canada, with another 130 personal care products containing the antibacterial chemical regulated as drug products.

Two years ago the federal government released a preliminary report on triclosan. It concluded the chemical is not harmful to human health but in significant amounts can cause harm to the environment.

Peter Kent, who was then the federal environment minister, said at the time that the government would begin discussions with industry to encourage voluntary reductions of triclosan in products.

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