The folks at The Feingold Diet have once again alerted me to new research recently presented by the American Chemical Society. If the environmentally damaging microbeads found in germ killing products isn’t bad enough, scientists are now concerned that triclosan and triclocarban, two of the most commonly used ingredients in germ killing soaps and other everyday products, have been shown to lead to antibiotic resistance as well as developmental and reproductive problems in animals and “potentially in humans.
According to Feingold, one of the problems in doing this sort of research on humans is that there has already ben universal exposure. These two chemicals are used in more than 2,000 household and personal hygiene products marketed as antimicrobial, including toothpastes, soaps, detergents, carpets, paints, school supplies and toys. Triclosan is used also used as as an anti-plaque agent in toothpaste and mouthwash.
Another challenge for consumers is that triclosan is a fairly recent addition to the marketplace. In 1969 it was still registered as a pesticide. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when it began to be used as a hospital scrub that it became common in germ killing soaps and other products. Only in the past 20 years has it become prevalent in everything from toothpaste to trash bags.
Over 95% of the uses of triclosan are in consumer products that are disposed of in residential drains. Since wastewater treatment plants do not (cannot?) remove triclosan from the water and the compound is highly stable for long periods of time, a huge amount of triclosan is expected to be emitted into waterways. In a U.S. Geological Survey study of 95 different organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, triclosan was one of the most frequently detected compounds, and in some of the highest concentrations.
Currently, Triclosan-containing products regulated by the EPA, such as adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics, and textiles, are rated by the EPA as “highly toxic.” It is also listed as a “possible carcinogen” by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer).
According to Toxipedia, there are simple ways to reduce exposure to triclosan and triclocarban:
- Forgo antibacterial soap.
- The American Medical Association says not to use it at home.
- Watch for the antibacterial chemicals triclosan and triclocarban in personal care products.
- Avoid “antibacterial” products.
Worried about germs? To protect your family’s health from harmful microorganisms without using germ killing soap and other products made with triclosan and triclocarban, follow these helpful tips from the Environmental Protection Agency:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with plain soap.
- Wash surfaces that contact food (e.g., utensils, cutting boards, counter tops) with a regular (not “antibacterial”) detergent and warm water.
- Wash children’s hands and toys regularly. Again, simple soap and good old-fashioned scrubbing will suffice (#Environmental Working Group).