It's been on the market for more than 40 years, and it's found in everything from antibacterial soap to toothpaste to toys. But there's a chance that the FDA is about to declare the chemical triclosan unsafe, in a review due to be completed this year. The germ-killer is one of a host of chemicals found in everyday American products that have never been approved by the FDA, and animal research indicates that it may increase the risk of infertility, early puberty, and other hormone problems, the AP reports.
"To me it looks like the risks outweigh any benefit associated with these products right now," one professor says. Triclosan was developed back before laws requiring FDA review of cleaning ingredients. But Congress specifically ordered the FDA to look into a number of common antibacterial chemicals, including triclosan, way back in 1972. Preliminary guidelines released by the FDA in 1978 indicated it was "not generally recognized as safe and effective," but the results have never been finalized, so manufacturers could keep on using it. The EU has already banned the chemical from certain products. (Read more antibacterial soap stories.)