Antibacterial Research Should Be Focused on Facts, Not Fear

Triclosan-Containing Cleaning Products Have 30+ Year Track

Record of Safety, Effectiveness, Says SDA

Apr 15, 2005, 01:00 ET from The Soap and Detergent Association

    WASHINGTON, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest attacks on effective germ-
 killing products are more about hype and headlines than real-world science,
 according to The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA).
     SDA, the trade association for the U.S. cleaning products industry,
 expressed disappointment at Virginia Tech publicity materials promoting recent
 antibacterial-related laboratory research, with headlines like, "Being Too
 Clean Could Be Hazardous to Your Health and the Environment."
     "Headlines such as these are way over the top and denigrate efforts to
 rationally discuss scientific research in the public arena," said SDA in a
     The research in question suggests consumers' usage of antibacterial
 cleaning and hygiene products leads to exposure to quantities of chloroform.
 The researcher alleges that chloroform is created when the antibacterial
 ingredient triclosan comes into contact with chlorine in tap water.
     SDA points out that:
     * Under usual conditions of municipal drinking water conditioning and
       chlorination, no triclosan would be present and, consequently, reaction
       products cannot be formed at the point of chlorination.  The researchers
       themselves exclude any risks associated with the drinking water supply.
     * Chlorine concentration in domestic water supplies is generally far below
       water-treatment scenarios described in the laboratory experiments.
       Maximum chlorine concentrations, as well as the chloroform
       concentrations, are regulated to low levels at the tap, eliminating any
       potential problem in the household.
     * This research does not raise new concerns for producers or users of
       antimicrobial household products.  However, it is strongly advised that
       chlorine cleaners and disinfectants must not be used in combination with
       other cleaners to avoid degradation -- as indicated on the product
     * Triclosan has been used safely and effectively in hygiene products for
       more than three decades and is comprehensively regulated by authorities
       nationally and around the globe.  Consumers can continue to use these
       products with confidence.
     * Cleanliness is especially important in view of the latest research in
       the New England Journal of Medicine(1) (Fridkin, et. al.) indicating
       staph infections that once targeted hospital patients or those in poor
       health are starting to hit the community at-large -- people out and
       about, not in the hospital, and who are otherwise healthy.
         -- Dr. Philip Tierno, an infectious disease expert at New York
            University Medical Center, expressed his concern in
            news reports(2) by stating that these cases "are so serious, that
            almost a quarter of the infections, of which most are skin
            infections, require hospitalization."
         -- "This is the time to use antibacterial soaps if there were ever a
            time," Dr. Tierno was quoted as saying.
     In conclusion, SDA expressed its hope that "researchers and their
 publicity departments would practice some discretion in how they market their
 research.  Stoking groundless fears detracts from rational scientific
 discussion that is too often lacking in today's 24/7 media culture."
     Additional weblinks: SDA Antibacterial Information page:
     The Soap and Detergent Association (, the U.S.
 Home of the Cleaning Products Industry(SM), is the non-profit trade
 association representing manufacturers of household, industrial, and
 institutional cleaning products; their ingredients and finished packaging; and
 oleochemical producers. SDA members produce more than 90 percent of the
 cleaning products marketed in the U.S. The SDA is located at 1500 K Street,
 NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005.
     (1)  Fridkin et al., (2005) Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
 Disease in Three Communities, New England Journal of Medicine, 352:1436-1444.
     (2)  Dr. Mike Rosen, "Resistant staph spread," April 7, 2005, WTNH-TV (New
 Haven, CT) website,

SOURCE The Soap and Detergent Association