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Triclosan Antibacterial Products – All You Need to Know

Posted Sep 15 2012 8:24am


It's a known fact that high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and even  BPA bottles are now in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Public opinion is divided as to whether some of these products are actually that harmful whereas they are in no doubt about others.

It tells you one thing, though. Health and fitness is definitely America's obsession – forget the "big four".

Given the epidemic levels of obesity in the country, thanks to fast food among other types of food that is anything but healthy, as depicted meticulously by independent researchers, the need to monitor what goes in our food has also spread to personal care products.

Most recently, the FDA, soap manufacturers and consumer advocates went up in arms to decide whether or not, the chemical known as triclosan , which was up for review after forty years of use, should continue to be used as an ingredient in several products extended from soaps, deodorants, cosmetics and so on and so forth.

But what makes this chemical dangerous, one might ask?

But before we answer this question, let's take a closer look at the antibacterial chemical: triclosan .

A Note on Triclosan

Triclosan, being a phenol (whatever!), is used in probably every personal and household care product that is available today. It's everywhere – meaning to say, not only in the aforementioned products but also in mouthwash, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, liquid soaps, shaving gels among a host of other products that aren't necessarily classified under personal care such as computers, toys, yoga mats and kitchen utensils and so on and so forth.

Ironically, it is used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent – meaning to say, it can kill germs, if used in stronger concentrations.

The Controversy surrounding Triclosan Antibacterial Products

So what's the fuss all about, one might ask?

Simply put, researchers are making claims that while triclosan is harmful to human health, its use in antibacterial soaps (the manufacturer, Dial, being one of them) doesn't prevent infections (as manufacturers claim) any better than plain soaps.

Speaking of being harmful to human health, this chemical is linked to conditions such as skin irritation, interference with the body's hormones, one's ability to learn, cancer, asthma and respiratory illness.

Interestingly, research has shown that bacteria that is exposed to triclosan develops resistance to amoxicillin and other antibacterial drugs… yet it isn't conclusive yet.

If that's not enough, studies conducted in the lab on animals have shown that an increase of triclosan levels in the body cause irreversible damage to health.

Yet the issues with triclosan go beyond human health, and since almost 96 percent of this chemical is washed away down the drain and routed to a wastewater treatment plant that isn't equipped to treat this chemical, it then forms dioxins, a highly toxic compound in the presence of sunlight which can cause extensive damage to wildlife and the environment as well.

In Closing

The issue has been raised not only in the United States but also in China, Canada and the United Kingdom, and it must be said that the FDA is currently reviewing the use of  triclosan in numerous products to check as to whether it conclusively harms human health and the environment as concluded by studies so far.

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