FDA Investigation: Is Anti-Bacterial Soap Safe?

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal health regulators are taking a look at the germ-killing ingredient that's found in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to determine whether triclosan is safe and effective. The FDA's findings could have implications for a $1 billion industry that includes hundreds of anti-bacterial products from toothpaste to toys.

The review comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers, consumer advocates and others who are concerned about the safety of the chemical, which has been in U.S. households for more than 40 years. Recent studies have led scientists to worry that triclosan could increase the risk of infertility, early puberty and other hormone-related problems in humans.

Many chemicals used in everyday household products have never been formally approved by U.S. health regulators. That's because many germ-killing chemicals were developed decades ago before there were laws requiring scientific review of cleaning ingredients.

The FDA plans to deliver its findings this year.