Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer products, has announced that it will discontinue the use of two controversial chemicals — diethyl phthalate, most often referred to as phthalates, and triclosan — from all its products by 2014.
Triclosan is classified as an endocrine-disrupting compound, is resistant to antibiotics, and has been linked to problems with personal health and the environment. Triclosan is often found in antibacterial soaps and body washes as well as in toothpastes and cosmetics. Johnson & Johnson announced in August 2012 that it would phase out the use of triclosan by 2015, although, like P&G, it denies that the chemical is unsafe.
Earlier this year, the journal Environmental Science & Technology published a University of Minnesota study that said increasing amounts of triclosan were found in the sediment of eight Minnesota lakes and rivers. In March, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order that state agencies would stop buying and using hand soaps, dish soaps and laundry cleaning products containing triclosan. Research shows that wastewater treatment plants are unable to filter the chemical out of the water.
Phthalates are often found in cosmetics and fragrances. Phthalates are also endocrine disruptors, and their use has been linked to everything from lower sperm counts and low testosterone in men to autism, breast cancer and testicular cancer.
P&G’s announcement was lauded as a significant move both by environmental and health care advocates. P&G is home to some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Cover Girl, Tide, Crest and Ivory.
As a result of recent studies indicating that triclosan contributes to antibacterial resistance, the FDA is currently reviewing the safety of the chemical.