antibacterial ingredient causing more harm than good

Triclosan: Harmful Antibacterial Ingredient

This morning, I finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck written by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie. It was an interesting read, albeit a bit tedious at times. Furthermore, this book was mostly about the journey of two men experimenting to see if they could alter the amount of certain toxins in their lives by exposing and not exposing themselves to household products and foods that commonly contain chemicals. I’ve heard quite a lot about BPA and phthalates coursing through our veins. However, one topic that really striked my interest was that of triclosan, a harmful ingredient found in many products labelled as “antibacterial.”

I’m not sure how I’d never heard of this toxin before, but it’s something that definitely needs to be brought to light.

What is triclosan? 

It’s a synthetic antibacterial and antimicrobial agent found in many of our household products such as shampoos, soaps, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, and others.

Is it harmful? 

Studies have found this chemical in about 75 percent of humans and scientists are readily finding it in our environment as well. Of course, researchers need to continue studying it, but at the moment scientists have found a connection between triclosan and allergies, cancers, and reproductive issues. It is an endocrine disruptor that overtime negatively effects our health. Scientists have done tests on mice to see the effects of antibacterial agents and the results show cancers formed in these mice. We need to decide if the moderate benefits of this chemical are worth the long term effects on our bodies.

Is it necessary?

Hospitals first used triclosan where extreme cleanliness was absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, these days the use of triclosan has become some what of a marketing ploy. It is a non essential ingredient that companies have added to their products to entice our germaphobic society. Antibacterial hand soap for example: If you think about it, it’s like marketing a soapy soap. Hand soap does a fine job of cleaning, and we don’t need added harmful chemicals to make it more effective. Companies have begun creating antibacterial/antimicrobial toothbrushes, yoga mats, hairbrushes, etc. It’s all a bit excessive and honestly a marketing scheme we should avoid.

Avoiding triclosan

Many companies are quietly dropping this ingredient from their products. However, be sure to carefully read ingredient lists when purchasing household products. Most anything with the term “antibacterial” should be a red flag for including toxic triclosan or a very similar harmful chemical called triclocarban. Here are a few examples of products that contain triclosan:

  • Colgate Total Toothpaste
  • Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Hand Soap
  • Reach Antibacterial Toothbrush
  • Clearasil Daily Face Wash

So let’s encourage all companies to discontinue this harmful chemical for healthier customers and a healthier environment!

All in all, what do you know about triclosan? Also, do you try to avoid chemicals in your daily life?

2 thoughts on “antibacterial ingredient causing more harm than good

  1. First I wanted to say I just discovered your blog, and I’m loving it! It’s so nice to see other waste free/minimal waste people passionate about what they are doing.
    As for antibacterials, I have avoided them ever since I took advanced chem in college. Our professor explained to us how people are so obsessed with being “germ free” that they aren’t thinking about the consequences of the products they are using. Basically when you use an anti-bacterial, some of the germs die, while others develop “r-plasmids”, or basically become immune to the anti-bacterial, and make little germ babies that are also immune. So you are building a little army of germs on your body that now cannot be killed with that anti-bacterial you use (I am obviously not a scientist, but my professor was so I trust her on this!). The best bet is to use a natural antiseptic. I got one at Whole Foods for my office (I work at a homeless shelter- unfortunately lots of germs). It is pure organic ethanol and some essential oils. That’s it. I know ethanol is probably not the best, but for now it will have to due as they only have anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and soap at the shelter, and neither of these list ingredients 🙁 Any ways, that’s just another reason to avoid anti-bacterials!

    1. Thanks so much Emily for checking out my blog! And I really appreciate your input on antibacterials and a more natural alternative to using them. It’s so great connecting with other sustainable minded bloggers, I’ll definitely scoot over to your blog and check it out! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.