Triclosan, a chemical used for its antibacterial properties, is an ingredient in many detergents, dish-washing liquids, soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, antimicrobial creams, at least one brand of toothpaste, and an additive in various plastics and textiles. However, the safety of triclosan has been questioned in regard to environmental and human health. While the companies that manufacture products containing this chemical claim that it is safe, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it as a pesticide. The chemical formulation and molecular structure of this compound are similar to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth, relating it to dioxins and PCBs. The EPA gives triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk.
Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals which is suspected of causing cancer in humans. Externally, phenol can cause a variety of skin irritations, but since it can temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings, contact with it may cause little or no pain. Taken internally, even in small amounts, phenol can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, convulsions, coma and death. Additionally, chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides can be stored in body fat, sometimes accumulating to toxic levels. Long term exposure to repeated use of many pesticide products can damage the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, suppress the immune system, and cause hormonal disruption, paralysis, sterility and brain hemorrhages.
Dioxins, PCBs, chlorophenols and many pesticides are categorized as persistent organic pollutants. In other words, they persist in the environment and accumulate to higher and higher concentrations with each step up the food chain. Virtually, every creature on earth has a measured amount of these pollutants in its body fat. Once absorbed into the fat cells, it is nearly impossible to eliminate these compounds. Triclosan is among this class of chemicals, and humans are among the animals at the top of the food chain. The health risks are considerable.
Employing a strong antibiotic agent such as triclosan
for everyday use is of questionable value. Many antimicrobial treatments
are toxic and take a shotgun approach to killing all microscopic
organisms to which they are applied. However, this approach includes the
risk of toxicity to host organisms, that is, the plants or animals
(including humans) exposed to treatment for microbial infections.
Triclosan has not been completely tested and analyzed for all health and environmental risks, but since it occurs in the category of the chemicals which are known to have the detrimental effects described here, do you want it added to products you use every day?
CONTINUE TO COMMON DISINFECTANT COULD BREED SUPERBUGS
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