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January 22, 2015

CELA and Other Groups Call On Federal Government to Declare Triclosan Toxic

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The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), along with other not-for-profit groups, are urging Canada’s federal government to officially declare Triclosan (CAS#3380-34-5) toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 Schedule I List of Toxic Substances and ensure a phase-out of triclosan in all consumer and institutional products, with priority given to cleaning and personal care products,

According to the groups’ submission, Triclosan and triclocarban, a similar antibacterial chemical incorporated into bars of soap and other consumer products, are ranked in the list of top contaminants of concern worldwide. US streams have a 60 – 100% likelihood of containing detectable quantities of both these chemicals. The presence of triclosan and triclocarban is so pervasive globally that they are now detectable in house dust worldwide, in ocean water and locations as remote as the water loop of spacecraft.

In March 2012, two departments of the Canadian Government released their Preliminary Assessment Report for triclosan. This assessment revealed varying levels of triclosan in wastewater effluent across Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia with data for triclosan concentrations in wastewater sludge across more provinces.

Environment Canada concluded that triclosan meets the criterion of ‘CEPA toxic’ and could be added to the CEPA 1999 List of Toxic Substances for a range of possible risk management measures, though to date, no action has been taken.

In contrast, Health Canada stated that triclosan does not constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health. According to the submission, "the disparity between the draft conclusions of Health Canada and Environment Canada for triclosan does not provide the necessary regulatory signal to the marketplace that this chemical should be eliminated from commerce."

Since triclosan is common in many household products, its most common entry into the environment is from passing through wastewater treatment plants. CWWA supports controlling or banning triclosan before it enters wastewater treatment plants over a risk management strategy that would require our members to remove it at the treatment level. However, we also support strong science to ensure that control measures are not implemented simply because a chemical is present without strong evidence that it is endangering environmental or human health. Analytical methods are capable of detecting a suite of substances at micro-levels, with little known of the impacts of these substances at such small concentrations. With the differing assessments from Health and Environment Canada it is difficult to assess the true threat of triclosan. CWWA will continue to monitor the situation.


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