Besides the growing evidence that triclosan is bad for us and our world there is another thing to consider. Children raised in an extremely germ free world have more health problems that those raised in a 'dirty' world. We need a variety of bacteria to keep us healthy.DIV>
Even the FDA states that "animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation" and that "other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics." Although they still maintain that triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans, they are conducting a review of the chemical, the results of which they expect to release to the public in the winter of 2012.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates triclosan as a pesticide, has also announced it will undertake a comprehensive review of triclosan beginning in 2013, and notes they will "pay close attention to the ongoing endocrine research and will amend the regulatory decision if the science supports such a change." Unfortunately, what this means for you for now is that essentially nothing is being done right now to get this chemical out of your hand soap, body wash and toothpaste.
Triclosan Was First Registered as a Pesticide
If you need more indication that triclosan is probably not the best ingredient to be brushing your teeth with or rubbing onto your underarms, consider that it was first registered with the EPA in 1969 … as a pesticide.
Today it is still registered as a pesticide, although aside from this and its uses in personal care products, it's also widely used for industrial uses, for instance it is incorporated in conveyor belts, fire hoses, dye bath vats, or ice-making equipment as an antimicrobial pesticide, as well as added to adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics (toys, toothbrushes), polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, floor wax emulsions, textiles (footwear, clothing), caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, carpeting, and a wide variety of other products.
Triclosan is Already Found in 75% of Americans
As it stands, this chemical has already been detected in the urine of three-quarters of the U.S. population, which means urgent action is clearly needed. Last year, House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter and two colleagues called on the FDA to enact a ban on triclosan, noting that "triclosan is clearly a threat to our health" and citing the following reasons for the proposed ban:
- "The presence of triclosan in the human body and its impact on our 'body burden'
- Bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and antibacterial cleaners
- The potential for endocrine disruption as a result of triclosan bioaccumulation in the body
- Wastewater contamination
- The threat of destroying ecological balance
- The fact that triclosan is no more effective than soap and water"
This last point is an important one, as the "benefit" of adding an antimicrobial product like triclosan to your hand soap is that it should kill off more germs, and theoretically keep you healthier. On the contrary, there is little or no evidence that these triclosan-containing antibacterial products outperform the good-old-fashioned techniques like washing with soap and water. There is, however, evidence that plain soap is more effective than its antibacterial counterparts. Researchers noted:
"The lack of an additional health benefit associated with the use of triclosan-containing consumer soaps over regular soap, coupled with laboratory data demonstrating a potential risk of selecting for drug resistance, warrants further evaluation by governmental regulators regarding antibacterial product claims and advertising."
It's Easy to Opt Out of Triclosan-Containing Products
The decision to stop using products that contain triclosan is an easy way to positively impact your and your family's health. There is simply no reason to ever purchase any product with triclosan in it. Triclosan is clearly listed on product ingredient labels, so you can easily check to see if it's there before deciding on a purchase. Remember, this chemical is not only in soaps but also body washes, toothpaste, shampoo, and 140+ other personal care and home products. Unfortunately, triclosan is now also contaminating rivers, streams and sewage sludge that is applied to agricultural fields, so there is a chance you're getting exposed from environmental sources as well.
Aside from reading labels, if a product claims to be "antibacterial," there's a good chance it contains triclosan, so this can be used as a warning label of sorts if you're looking to avoid this chemical.