The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of a widely used chemical found in antibacterial soap, toothpaste and other consumer goods.
The agency said Thursday in an online statement it is looking into recent studies showing the chemical triclosan can alter hormone levels in animals. Other studies suggest the chemical increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
The FDA says it currently has no evidence that triclosan is hazardous to humans and does not recommend consumers avoid it. However, the agency said there is no evidence that soap with triclosan is superior to soap without the ingredient.
The agency plans to release its review of the chemical next year.
FDA scientists last studied the chemical in 1997 and concluded it helped enhance toothpaste.
The FDA agreed to look into the safety of triclosan at the request of Congressman Edward Markey, D-Mass. On Thursday Markey called on the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the substance from use in personal hygiene products, children's toys or food.
"Despite the fact that this chemical is found in everything from soaps to socks, there are many troubling questions about triclosan's effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children," Markey said in a statement.
The European Union recently banned triclosan from any products that come into contact with food.
Source: The Associated Press