The agency said it is revisiting the safety of chemicals like triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting they can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
The government’s preliminary ruling lends new credence to longstanding warnings from researchers who say the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.
Under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. If companies cannot demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, they would have to be reformulated, relabeled or possibly removed from the market. The agency will take comments on its proposal before finalizing it in coming months.