Safety of chemicals in soap: HSA replies

Safety of chemicals in soap: HSA replies

We thank Ms Amy Ang for her feedback on ingredients in antibacterial hand soaps ("Will S'pore ban chemicals in soap?"; last Sunday).

In Singapore, personal care products such as antibacterial soaps and hand and body washes are regulated as cosmetic products.

Singapore is part of the regional framework of the Asean Cosmetic Directive, which adopts similar regulatory principles and requirements to the European Union (EU) regulations.

The Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) regulation on cosmetic products is based primarily on the inherent safety of the active ingredients.

Based on safety assessments by the EU and Asean, 13 of the 19 ingredients announced by the United States Food and Drug Administration are already prohibited for use or allowed for use only with restrictions in Singapore.

The remaining six ingredients are allowed to be contained in cosmetic products, as they have not been shown to pose safety concerns in humans. To date, HSA has not received any adverse event reports associated with their use.

In the case of triclosan, it continues to be allowed for use as a preservative in cosmetic products at a concentration of 0.3 per cent, and in higher concentrations in antiseptic preparations.

This antibacterial agent has not been shown to be harmful in humans. HSA will continue to work with our international counterparts to review the long-term safety of these antibacterial ingredients and will initiate appropriate regulatory actions as necessary.

For personal hygiene purposes, washing with regular soap and water would suffice. Nonetheless, based on current scientific information, there is no substantive evidence to recommend changing consumer use of personal hygiene products that contain antibacterial ingredients.

Hui Foong Mei (Ms)

Director, Complementary Health Products Branch

Health Products Regulation Group

Health Sciences Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Safety of chemicals in soap: HSA replies'. Print Edition | Subscribe