Procter & Gamble has announced plans to eliminate the toxic chemicals triclosan and diethyl phthalate (DEP) from all its products by 2014.
P&G is one of the world's largest manufacturers of consumer products. Its line includes well-known household and personal care brands such as Cover Girl, Tide, Crest and Ivory.
The Food and Drug Administration states that triclosan has not been conclusively proven to actually kill bacteria, a claim suggested by many manufacturers of anti-bacterial products containing the ingredient.
"At this time, FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water. Consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water."
Triclosan has been implicated as having a hormone-altering effect in animal studies. Even more worrisome, some studies suggest that triclosan may actually contribute to making bacteria more antibiotic-resistant.
DEP (diethyl phthalate) has been shown in animal studies as having reproductive toxicity resulting in skeletal deformities in offspring of animals exposed to the substance. A 2002 report by environmental health advocacy group Health Care Without Harm, revealed the dangers to humans from repeated phthalate exposure:
"Phthalates are in the blood of pregnant women at levels of concern, particularly when the contaminants are considered in the aggregate. Phthalates cross the placenta and also contaminate breast milk. Relevant animal tests show that phthalates interfere with normal fetal and infant development."