Triclosan is a man-made chemical that has the ability to destroy and prevent the grown of bacteria and other micoorganisms.
Triclosan was first introduced in 1972 as a surgical-grade antiseptic in hospitals. Since then it has made its way into a multitude of products, from toothpaste to socks to household soaps and detergents. Due to lack of consumer awareness, we have failed to ask ourselves why this hospital-grade sterilizer has ended up in our homes. All we know is that germs are everywhere, and anything that has the word “antibacterial” on it is more appealing than “regular” soap and water.
Many companies are now taking advantage of our germ-obsessed culture to market special “anti-bacterial” soaps which contain Triclosan as their main ingredient. They are present in dispensers at public restrooms, hospitals and clinics, and even in our offices.
These soaps supposedly work more effectively to kill germs, but research has revealed that this is untrue. The American Medical Association (AMA) has issued official statements to the public, saying there is no evidence that antibacterial soap works better than regular soap. They have also issued warnings about the potential of Triclosan to breed disinfectant-resistant “super-germs.”
Triclosan works against bacteria by destroying the outer membrane that the bacteria use as protection, making the membrane permeable so that Triclosan can cross it and kill the microorganism. Unfortunately for us, bacteria are experts at adaptation. They can mutate so that Triclosan is rendered ineffective. These mutations also render the bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics, and can be passed on to succeeding “generations” of bacteria to create “super germs” that are drug-resistant and difficult to eliminate.
One published study came to the conclusion that “widespread use of Triclosan may represent a potential public health risk in regard to development of concomitant resistance to clinically important antimicrobials.” This is only one of the many concerns regarding this chemical.
Studies done on animals have shown that Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor. This means it can interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in the body and cause problems with our thyroid gland and reproductive organs.
According to a study performed on mice at the Univeristy of California Davis, Triclosan had a dramatic effect on cardiac function, reducing it by up to 25%. It also seems to interfere with skeletal muscle function and contractility. The grip strength of exposed mice was reduced by 18%. Fish who were exposed to Triclosan in amounts equal to what they would be exposed to after a week in the wild where shown to have reduced swimming performance. Triclosan is also a suspected carcinogen with the potential to cause breast cancer and liver cancer.
Since Triclosan is lipophilic, it has the ability to accumulate in fatty tissue and stay there without decomposing for long periods of time. And since Triclosan is so ubiquitous, it’s so easy to come into contact with it. 75% of the U.S. population is already contaminated with the chemical. According to a report from the Scientific American, Triclosan was found in breast milk, blood, and urine tested in laboratories.
BeyodPesticides.org says that Triclosan is present in a host of common household products such as Dial Liquid Soap, Clearasil Daily Facial Wash, Colgate Total Mouthwash, Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant, Gilette Shave Gel, BioFresh Socks, and even common brands of children’s toys like PlaySkool.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that “Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans.” The keyword in that phrase is “not currently known.” Since Triclosan is relatively new, there has not been enough evidence against the chemical to remove it from the market. Until the FDA is able to take action, millions of people around the world are exposing themselves to this hazardous additive.
The only solution is to avoid the use of Triclosan completely. This chemical wasn’t used in homes before and doesn’t need to be used in homes today. Instead of using Triclosan-containing “antibacterial” soaps, use regular soap and water for thorough handwashing. If you really feel like you need to use an antibacterial soap, there are many natural, non-toxic alternatives which make use of organic ingredients and plant essential oils.