Triclosan Information

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial ingredient used as an active ingredient in skin and oral care consumer products. The most common applications for Triclosan are in liquid soaps, underarm deodorants, and toothpastes. In hospitals, it is used by both patients and hospital staff. These uses are regulated for performance by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Hand contact to contaminated surfaces as well as direct hand-to-hand transmission of bacteria, is one of the primary sources of disease transmission. Studies show Triclosan in hand soaps significantly reduces the number of bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person. This can be especially important before preparing and eating meals, after using the bathroom, diapering a child, after playing with a pet or when caring for the sick. In other skin and oral care consumer products like deodorants and toothpastes, it helps to control bacteria that cause body odors, and to prevent dental diseases.

Other related uses:

Triclosan is extremely effective in slowing or halting bacterial growth in certain specialized applications such as textiles and plastics. Triclosan controls the growth of odor-causing bacteria and prevents bacterial degradation, thus extending the life of everyday household products like shower curtains and bathroom floor mats. These uses are regulated in the US by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Description of ingredient:

Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent. Triclosan combats gram-negative bacteria, as well as the odor-causing gram-positive bacteria based on the concentration of antimicrobial material in the consumer product. At very low levels <1%, triclosan interferes with a particular enzyme which is crucial to the growth of bacteria, thus inhibiting bacterial development. When triclosan is present in higher concentrations it prevents the bacteria from manufacturing the fatty acids needed to build cell membranes or walls. As a result, the normal function of the bacterial cell is disrupted and the bacteria perish or die. It has been consistently demonstrated that at the levels found in most personal care products, Triclosan has significant biocidal activity. Triclosan has been shown to be effective in hospital studies at reducing the risk of infection from methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

More Information:

Human Health & Safety: Extensive studies have been conducted and have shown that the use of Triclosan-containing products is safe when used as directed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) thoroughly reviewed its use, through a new drug registration, as an oral care product. Products containing Triclosan have been in the market for more than 40 years and thus have a long use history in both Europe and the US. Data on Triclosan demonstrates low acute and chronic toxicity and it has an acceptable human safety profile for use in personal cleansing products. A human health risk assessment on the basis of the worst-case assumption of aggregate exposure demonstrates that the use of such products provides a high margin of safety. Various investigations have demonstrated that human exposure levels are extremely low and that such levels are safe and effective. Moreover, no significant adverse effects have been reported through post-market product surveillance. Environmental Safety: Extensive studies have been performed and demonstrate no significant risk to the environment. Triclosan does not accumulate. Triclosan is almost completely removed from the wastewater via biodegradation or sorption with only trace amounts detectable in the effluent water. Resistance: In January 1997, the FDA convened an independent expert panel to determine if antimicrobial products presented any risk of promoting antibiotic resistance. FDAs Non-prescription Drug Advisory Committee (NDAC) concluded that there was no evidence linking the use of antimicrobial products and antibiotic resistance under actual use conditions. In October 2005, the agency expressed concerns, which have also been voiced by some in the scientific community, about the possibility that Triclosan-containing products might result in antibiotic resistance. To date, however, there is no convincing evidence that these products cause increased resistance to antibiotics. Several European authoritative committees have stated that Triclosan-containing cosmetic products are not suspected to induce or transmit resistance in bacteria. The industry continues to conduct research to monitor the issue and to report any new findings to FDA. Regulatory Information: Triclosan is approved by FDA for use in dentifrices and medical devices as well as approved for use in several antimicrobial applications under the authority of the EPA. The safety has been established through extensive testing including clinical studies. A margin of safety greater than 1,000 has been calculated for Triclosan based on its use in personal care products. RESOURCES: Cleaning for Health (The Soap and Detergent Association):… Triclosan Information (CIBA website). European Commission’s Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) opinion on bacterial resistance to triclosan (2002): Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) opinion on bacterial resistance to triclosan (2002): Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) opinion on bacterial resistance to triclosan (2006): Safety documents on Triclosan (FDA website): Safety document on Triclosan (EPA website):…