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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

SUNY Downstate Studies Antimicrobial Compounds in Women and Newborns

Triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) are antimicrobial agents formulated in a wide variety of consumer products (including soaps, toothpaste, medical devices, plastics, and fabrics) that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In late 2014, the FDA will consider regulating the use of both chemicals, which are under scrutiny regarding lack of effectiveness, potential for endocrine disruption, and potential contribution to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Investigation by Dr. Laura Geer, assistant professor in the department of environmental and occupational health sciences at SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health, with colleagues from Arizona State University, report on environmental exposure to TCS and TCC based on actual consumer use of antimicrobial household products during pregnancy. Their research findings were recently presented at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

The interquartile range of detected Σ-TCS concentrations in urine were highly similar to those reported previously for the age-matched population of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003/4, but typically higher than those reported for the general population (detection frequency = 74.6 percent). Urinary levels of Σ-TCC are reported for the first time from real-world exposures during pregnancy, showing a median concentration of 0.21 μg/L. This study presents the first human biomonitoring data for TCC based on actual consumer exposures during pregnancy and provides additional data for environmental exposure to TCS in the maternal-fetal unit for an urban population in the United States.

Although the human body is efficient at flushing out triclosan and triclocarban, a person’s exposure to them can potentially be constant.  A growing body of evidence showing that the compounds can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals and potentially in humans. Also, some research suggests that the additives could contribute to antibiotic resistance, a growing public health problem.

Dr. Geer and colleagues are currently examining exposures to these compounds and possible links with birth outcomes.

Members of the ASU research team include: Dr. Benny Pycke, assistant research scientist and lead author and Dr. Rolf Halden, professor and director, Center for Environmental Security Biodesign Institute

For a link to the study, please visit: