For the sake of this blog, I’m gonna assume that the answer is yes. So, if you’re using liquid antibacterial soaps, certain dental care items or any number of antibacterial home products, you’re likely being exposed to triclosan – a hormone disrupting pesticide – and a product switch is next on your to-do list.
What’s all the hoopla about? Haven’t we been told that antimicrobial agents are good things that help protect us from germs and illness? Unfortunately, yes; when it comes to triclosan – and the related triclocarbon, which is found in antibacterial bar soaps – the market has led us to believe that with their use, we’ve got germ-fighting all wrapped up.
But the truth is dirtier than that. With the ubiquitousness of triclosan (it can be found in many liquid soaps, countertops, deodorants, shower curtains, sponges, blankets, clothing — the list goes on…), we’re regularly being exposed to an easily absorbed chemical that has been found in breast milk and that can interfere with thyroid hormones that control brain function as well as testosterone and estrogen which, respectively, regulate sperm function and the onset of puberty. It is also linked to liver and inhalation toxicity.
When it comes to the very frightening concept of bacterial resistance, triclosan is a player in that game as well. And, as a kicker, wastewater treatment doesn’t remove the chemical entirely, so it gets into our waterways and is very toxic to aquatic life.
But at least the stuff works, right? Well, I for one wouldn’t argue with a US FDA Advisory Committee that found that the use of antibacterial soaps was no more effective than the use of soap and water to kill bacteria and microbes. Furthermore, a study done at health care facilities found that when used at certain higher concentrations, triclosan killed gram positive bacteria and not gram negative bacteria – the very bacteria that cause many hospital acquired infections.
So I’d say no, the stuff doesn’t work. And, considering all of its downsides, it’s pretty clear that the the American Medical Association’s and American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations that we use plain soap and water instead of antibacterial soap products is right on the mark.
So how does a dedicated hand-washer avoid triclosan? For starters, read labels. Since triclosan is required to be listed as an ingredient in things like soaps (and mouthwash and toothpaste and body wash), there’s no mystery there. Just buy a safe, plant-based soap such as Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap or Babyganics Foaming Hand Soap, lather up under warm water and stay there for around 20 seconds. Voila! Safe and effective cleaning.
And when it comes to other products, do you really need to don a shirt laced with a hormone disruptor or slice a pepper on a chemical filled cutting board? I thought not…so beware of the antibacterial label.
Make your home triclosan-free and clean up the healthy way…