Toothpaste cancer alert
Mark Prigg Science Correspondent And Rebecca
Lawrence, Evening Standard 15.04.05 from
& Spencer is one the stores to be hit by the
Dozens of toothpastes sold at supermarkets are at
the centre of a cancer alert today.
Anti-bacterial cleaning products, including
dishwashing liquid and handwash, are also affected.
Researchers have discovered that triclosan, a
chemical in the products, can react with water to
produce chloroform gas. If inhaled in large enough
quantities, chloroform can cause depression, liver
problems and, in some cases, cancer.
Evening Standard investigation found dozens of
products on supermarket shelves containing the
chemical, from brand names including Colgate,
Aquafresh, Dentyl and Sensodyne.
Marks& Spencer confirmed today it was removing
products containing triclosan from all its stores
and has been working with Greenpeace to develop
Asda said it was investigating the problem and would
be urgently talking to its suppliers.
Giles Watson, a toxicology expert at wildlife
charity WWF, warned that the long-term effects of
exposure to chloroform were still unknown and
advised consumers to check the bottles before buying
"These products produce low levels of chloroform,
but that adds up over time. The amount of gas formed
is very low but I think the key thing is that we
just don't know what the effects are. However,
manufacturers do have to list triclosan on their
ingredients, so if consumers are worried the best
advice is to avoid products with the chemical."
Tesco spokesman said: "We do not use triclosan in
any of our own-brand products, apart from one
anti-bacterial handwash, which is being
reformulated, and our toothpaste. We
believe that triclosan is a very effective
ingredient in toothpaste as it helps fight gum
disease and improve overall oral care."
Department of Trade and Industry said use of
triclosan was tightly controlled under EU laws
brought in last year, but that they were under
Researchers in the US found that the chlorine added
to water in Britain reacted with
produce chloroform-gas. They found that it was
possible for the chloroform produced when soap
containing the chemical mixes
with chlorinated water to be absorbed through the
skin or inhaled.
Professor Peter Vikesland, of Virginia Tech
University, who carried out the research, said:
"This is the first work that we know of that
suggests that consumer products, such as
antimicrobial soap, can produce significant
quantities of chloroform." He has called for
governments around the world to regulate the
chemical more closely.
Triclosan is in:
Colgate Total fresh stripe
Sensodyne Total Care
Tesco own brand toothpaste
Mentadent P; Aquafresh