(Phenol, 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)- )
CAS Registry Number 3380-34-5
What is it?
- Triclosan, also known as phenol, 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)-, is an antimicrobial agent that is used in a variety of products.
How is it used?
- Triclosan is used as a material preservative and an antimicrobial in a variety of products to stop the growth of bacteria, fungus, and mildew; and to deodorize.
- In Canada, triclosan is mainly used in cosmetics and personal care products.
- It is also used as a material preservative in textiles, leather, paper, plastic and rubber materials.
Why is the Government of Canada assessing it?
How are Canadians exposed to it?
- Exposure of the general population of Canada to triclosan mainly occurs through the use of products, including cosmetics and personal care products.
How is it released to the environment?
- Use of products containing triclosan results in release of the substance to wastewater systems. Since triclosan is not fully removed from wastewater during treatment, it is released to surface water.
- Application of biosolids from wastewater treatment systems to agricultural soil can result in the release of triclosan to soil in these locations.
What are the results of the assessment?
- The Government of Canada has conducted a science-based assessment of triclosan.
- Results of this preliminary assessment indicate that triclosan can affect many types of freshwater organisms even at very low concentrations. As a result, its continuous release to water courses from wastewater treatment plants may cause harm to aquatic organisms.
- In addition, while results indicate that triclosan is not expected to remain in the environment for a long time, organisms may be exposed for long periods because of its continuous release, and it has the potential to accumulate in organisms such as fish.
- The Government of Canada is therefore proposing that triclosan is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or under conditions that constitute a danger to the environment.
- However, the Government of Canada is proposing that triclosan is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.
- Pest control products containing triclosan do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.
What is the Government of Canada doing?
- The Preliminary Assessment Report for Triclosan and the Proposed Risk Management Scope for Triclosan were published on March 31, 2012. Both publications will be followed by a 60-day public comment period, ending May 30, 2012.
- Products containing triclosan may continue to be sold and used in Canada. However, the Government of Canada will initiate discussions with industry stakeholders to determine the possibility of voluntary reductions in the use of triclosan.
- The Government of Canada will initiate information gathering activities, such as industry consultations and a section 71 survey, to update information on use patterns, potential for industrial release and market trends, to better understand the sources of triclosan to the environment and to inform future risk management actions.
- Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist indicates concentration limits for triclosan in mouthwash and in other cosmetic products. Under Canadian legislation, cosmetics that contain substances that are harmful to the user cannot be sold.
- If the proposed conclusion is confirmed in the final assessment, the Government of Canada will consider options to reduce releases of triclosan in the environment.
- The Government of Canada will build upon current efforts to develop policies to address concerns related to the use of antimicrobials.
What can Canadians do?
- The health risks associated with a chemical depend on the hazard (its potential to cause health effects) and the dose (the amount of chemical to which you are exposed). Triclosan is not presently a concern for the health of the general population in Canada at current levels of exposure.
- As a general precaution, Canadians are reminded to carefully follow safety warnings and directions when using products containing triclosan.
- Canadians who handle triclosan in the workplace should consult with their occupational health and safety representative about safe handling practices, applicable laws and requirements under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
- Information available from the Public Health Agency of Canada indicates that "antibacterial soaps offer no benefit over regular, plain soaps in preventing common illnesses".
- Therefore, Canadians concerned about environmental releases of triclosan from hand and body soaps can wash with regular soap and water.
Please see Questions and Answers on Triclosan for more information.