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Triclosan: is it safe for humans? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   

Many people cruise department stores, grocery stores and pretty much any kind of store purchasing products for their home and family. Brand names and prices are a key factor in exactly what product consumers will grab off the shelf. What consumers don’t look for are the key ingredients in many of those products. Well, some people do.

Teresa Mailander said she was watching the news a while back and a story about a possible pesticide being used in many of today’s household products popped up. The story highlighted an active ingredient, Triclosan, used in some toothpastes, hand soaps, mouth washes among other products.

Knowing her family, as well as most others in today’s society, use these products on a regular basis, she decided to look into the issue a little further.

What she found led her to notify family members to throw away products containing Triclosan.

Labels on today’s products include names of ingredients that many Americans just overlook because they are nearly impossible to pronounce. It’s also almost nearly impossible to know what many of them are.

One of those “weird looking words” is Triclosan. It has been questioned in regard to environmental and human health. While the companies that manufacture products containing the chemical claim that it is safe, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it as a pesticide, according to M. Angela McGhee, Ph.D. in biology and marine sciences.

Triclosan is an organic, polychloro phenoxy phenol compound typically used as an antibacterial or antifungal agent.

Triclosan can come in either ether or phenol form, though the phenol forms are more popularly used as they have antibacterial properties.

Triclosan is typically used for health and grooming products. These include toothpaste, soaps, deodorants, shaving creams and mouth washes.

Because of its cleaning properties, concentrated forms of Triclosan can be found in cleaning products. Also, infusions of Triclosan can be found in consumer product items like toys, bedding, trash bags and apparel like socks or undershirts.

The greatest benefit from Triclosan is the use of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. These can help disinfect or effectively clean body parts. However, many experts and scientists warn that overusing Triclosan can help bacteria build resistant strains of the very bacteria Triclosan typically works against. Triclosan is also believed to be responsible for creating chloroform.

Typically, Triclosan can only create chloroform when combined with chlorine. However, recent studies have shown that trace amounts of chlorine can be found in tap water. This subtle combination of Triclosan and chlorine-traced tap water can create deadly chloroform which is a known human carcinogen.

Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans, according to the FDA. But, since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient, several scientific studies have come out that merit further review.

Animal studies have shown that Triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals doesn’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that Triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

According to the FDA, they are in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of the ingredient. The FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain Triclosan at this time.


Holyoke Enterprise June 9, 2011