Urinary concentrations of triclosan in the U.S. population: 2003-2004

Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Mar;116(3):303-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.10768.


Background: Triclosan is a synthetic chemical with broad antimicrobial activity that has been used extensively in consumer products, including personal care products, textiles, and plastic kitchenware.

Objectives: This study was designed to assess exposure to triclosan in a representative sample > or = 6 years of age of the U.S. general population from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Methods: We analyzed 2,517 urine samples using automated solid-phase extraction coupled to isotope dilution-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Results: We detected concentrations of total (free plus conjugated) triclosan in 74.6% of samples at concentrations of 2.4-3,790 microg/L. The geometric mean and 95th percentile concentrations were 13.0 microg/L (12.7 microg/g creatinine) and 459.0 microg/L (363.8 mug/g creatinine), respectively. We observed a curvilinear relation between age and adjusted least square geometric mean (LSGM) concentrations of triclosan. LSGM concentrations of triclosan were higher in people in the high household income than in people in low (p < 0.01) and medium (p = 0.04) income categories.

Conclusions: In about three-quarters of urine samples analyzed as part of NHANES 2003-2004, we detected concentrations of triclosan. Concentrations differed by age and socioeconomic status but not by race/ethnicity and sex. Specifically, the concentrations of triclosan appeared to be highest during the third decade of life and among people with the highest household incomes.

Keywords: 2,4,4′-trichloro-2′-hydroxydiphenyl ether; 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)-phenol; Irgasan; NHANES 2003–2004; biomonitoring; exposure; human; urine.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / urine*
  • Child
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Triclosan / urine*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Triclosan