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The Trouble With Triclosan in Your Soap

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 05:56 AM
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The Trouble With Triclosan in Your Soap

Who knew that washing your hands could harm your health and the environment? Thanks to the chemical industry, a hazardous antibacterial compound called triclosan is now an ingredient in many household and personal care products such as soaps, cleaners, cosmetics, clothing, and even childrens toys. While consumers might think triclosan can protect them from harmful bacteria, it turns out that the use of this dangerous chemical in household products is no more effective than soap and water; and may be doing more harm than good.

To make matters worse, triclosan persists in the environment, mixes with other chemicals to form more toxic substances, contributes to the growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and causes a range of human and ecological health problems.

What is Triclosan?
Chemical company Ciba invented triclosan in the 1960s. In 1972, the company introduced triclosan to the consumer market where it was confined for the most part to health care settings. But in the last decade, it has been sold to household product manufacturers as an antibacterial agent. These manufacturers then create antibacterial products that contain triclosan, which are marketed to consumers as healthier than other products.

Depending on the company that sells the chemical, it also appears in products as Microban, Irgasan (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum. Some antibacterial soaps use triclocarban in place of triclosan.

No Benefits
Claiming that products containing this antibacterial substance promote good health is misleading. While these products do inhibit bacterial growth, experts question whether this is really necessary for everyday household use. In fact, soaps that contain triclosan have not been proven to be more effective in preventing normal household illnesses than ordinary soap and water. In 2005, an FDA advisory panel of experts voted 11 to one that antibacterial soaps were no more effective than regular soap and water in fighting infections.

Many Risks
Triclosan can create more potent strains of bacteria, increasing antibacterial and antibiotic resistance. So its use in household products may actually contribute to more illnesses. Thats because triclosan kills mostbut not allof the bacteria it encounters. The germs that survive a triclosan onslaught emerge stronger and harder to kill in the future. With the increasing prevalence of triclosan, common bacteria can become more resistant. And if they infect people, treatment with antibiotics could be more difficult.

Because antibacterial resistance is a growing health concern, the American Medical Association in 2000 said that there is little evidence to support the use of antimicrobials in consumer products and that given the risk of antimicrobial resistance, it may be prudent to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products.

FULL story at link.

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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 06:19 AM
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1. Just Triclosan?
There are several antibacterials in common use. None of them are particularly effective as household disinfectants.

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AndyA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 06:58 AM
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2. And despite what the AMA said about it back in 2000, this stuff is still in many products.
In fact, it's difficult to find soaps that don't have some sort of antimicrobial agent in them. Another case of what's good for the chemical companies/corporate America is good for all.
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TNDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 07:27 AM
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3. Make your own!
I do - bath soaps and laundry soaps. Haven't tried shampoo yet. Or just buy somebody's handmade soaps.
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pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 07:51 AM
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4. K&R
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FatDave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 10:52 AM
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5. "contributes to the growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics"
Which is why I never buy the antibacterial stuff. All you do is selectively breed the strongest bacteria, the ones that survive. Bad, bad idea.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 01:32 PM
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6. I use it in my vet hospital with serious reservations because of the
environmental issues, but for infectious disease control and liability reasons I feel like I HAVE to use it. My assistant is sensitive to it, so we keep some Trader Joe's liquid soap just for her in the back.

I think probably I will quit using the triclosan soap when I run out. It probably DOESN'T make much diference, if any. I'll just scrub harder and more often, or maybe use chlorhexidine surgical scrub in its place.........
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 07:41 PM
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7. A thyroid disruptor? Big surprise.
A 2006 study concluded that low doses of triclosan act as an endocrine disruptor in the North American bullfrog.<19> The hypothesis proposed is that triclosan blocks the metabolism of thyroid hormone, because it chemically mimics thyroid hormone, and binds to the hormone receptor sites, blocking them, so that normal hormones cannot be utilized. Triclosan has also been found in both the bile of fish living downstream from waste water processing plants and in human breast milk.<20> The negative effects of Triclosan on the environment and its questionable benefits in toothpastes<21> has led to the Swedish Naturskyddsfreningen to recommend not using triclosan in toothpaste.<22> Another 2009 study demonstrated that triclosan exposure significantly impacts thyroid hormone concentrations in the male juvenile rats.<23>

Triclosan is used in many common household products including Clearasil Daily Face Wash, Dentyl mouthwash, Dawn, the Colgate Total range, Crest Cavity Protection, Softsoap, Dial, Right Guard deodorant, Sensodyne Total Care, Old Spice, Mentadent, and Bath and Body works hand sanitizers.

Compare the chemical structre to that of thyroxine, a polyiodinated (vs chlorinated) phenoxyphenol derivative:

Not surprising that a thyroxine receptor site might be confused by triclosan.
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