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Triclosan Antibacterial: Going back to Mother nature

Posted May 18 2010 5:04am


Jeremy Taylor once said, "To preserve a man alive in the midst of so many chances and hostilities, is as great a miracle as to create him." Truer words were never spoken!

It's strange that as we profess to know so much about health, that we know very little indeed. Each of us are so unique (read: so different from each other) and it bodes well for us to consider Stoicism as a 'way of life' where no matter what happen we remain accepting, and yes even if we die… so what?

But why would I make such a suggestion especially on a blog such as this one?

Consider the chances of anyone realizing that triclosan (an antibacterial and antifungal agent!) is harmful, which is present in almost every consumer product that is used daily, until the FDA brought up the subject this year.

And God only knows what other surprises lie in ambush as humans continue to reach for that god-like status that has evaded us for centuries, thanks to modern day science and all its findings. Stoicism… anyone?


For the enthusiastic chem grads, it's basically classified in organic chemistry as a phenol and for the vast majority who'd like to think otherwise, this chemical is a part of every soap (liquid or solic), face and skin cleanser, mouthwash, toothpaste and a range of cosmetics, deodorants, several other personal care products, clothes, kitchen products, computers, kids toys and so on and so forth.

This furore over the use of triclosan in everyday products, since its use from the 1970s, began with the representative Edward J. Markey calling for a ban on the substance, following the release of correspondence from both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He has also sent letters to thirteen major manufacturers that use triclosan in their products.

According to the latest update, the FDA does not possess sufficient evidence to authorize a ban on the substance but tests on animals suggest hormone regulation which has the been the reason why it has set red flags off.

Although, the use of triclosan in several products are beneficial there is no evidence to support the fact that it continues to be beneficial in other products. And this is where the FDA finds themselves in a quandary!

Apart from allegations of the substance forming chloroform in combination with chlorine in water that can in turn form dioxins that even in very small doses can be fatal to the human body. As for those compounds formed that are not so harmful in small quantities, they can accumulate in the body to the extent up to which they can be considered harmful as well.

In August 2009, the Canadian government banned triclosan in all products due to the concerns raised about it creating antibiotic resistance as well as the formation of harmful substances, just like the ones mentioned above.

Whether or not it turns out to be a hoax or not (highly unlikely!),  at least Congressman Edwards makes sense by saying that triclosan-prepared (for lack of a better term!) foods and products for children under the age of 12 should definitely go first before the others come up for review.

In Closing

While triclosan has been classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen when combining with tap water to form chloroform gas, and the study in 2006 which found that low doses of triclosan acted as an endocrine disruptor in the North American Bullfrog, it is safe to assume that these warning aren't coming out of the blue nor is it based on a flash of genius!

It's hard to say whether this is an alert that one must take seriously, however this gives the tree-huggers more incentive to push the 'go green'. With the number of synthetic products available in the market far outnumbering their natural ones, one feels that this going green seems to be a better idea as the day go by. Sorry, I stand corrected… it's going BACK to mother nature! Trust me, it's a miracle we're still alive…

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