The National Resources Defense Council has sued the Food and Drug Administration for failing to issue a final rule regulating toxic chemicals found in antimicrobial soap and other products.

Two common ingredients, triclosan and triclocarban, are suspected endocrine disruptors that can damage reproductive organs, sperm quality and production of thyroid and sex hormones.

The nonprofit environmental group cited recent bio-monitoring results that found residues of the chemical triclosan in 75 percent of Americans over the age of six. The chemicals are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, urine and even breast milk.

Plaintiffs allege that the FDA violated federal law by delaying to establish regulations despite studies have revealed that chemicals are not effective and have serious health risks.

The rule that would have removed the chemicals from antibacterial soaps in 1978 was not finalized by the FDA until now resulting in a wide use of the chemicals without regulation.

"Three decades of delay is outrageous," said Avinash Kar, an attorney with NRDC. "FDA needs to issue a final rule on triclosan and triclocarban now, and that rule should ban both chemicals in hand soaps."

“As a result of the FDA's lengthy delay, consumers remain exposed to triclosan and triclocarban through a variety of over-the-counter drug products, such as antimicrobial hand soaps, that proliferate on the market," the lawsuit stated.

In April, the FDA acknowledged soaps containing triclosan or triclocarban do not provide additional benefits. However, the agency noted that there is lack of evidence that exposure to the chemicals could be harmful to consumers.

The FDA said it was “working diligently” to publish the proposed rule, according to a response to a letter from U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts in February.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The case is National Resources Defense Council v. USDA et al, 10 CIV 5690.