What Is The Truth About Triclosan?

In recent weeks, a previously unknown substance called triclosan has been dominating the headlines thanks to ever-growing assertions that the additive is remarkably dangerous. Even amid all that negative press, though, triclosan still has it’s defenders – including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the organization, “Triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans” and we do “not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time.” Still, people are worried and many other groups are pushing to the have the substance banned altogether. So, what is triclosan and should you ban it from your home?


It’s Everywhere… For No Reason

Simply put, triclosan is an antibacterial additive that has been tossed into an enormous and surprising array of consumer products. No only is it used in soaps, toothpastes and bodywashes but you can even find this chemical in cooking tools, children’s toys, footwear and furniture.

In all of its applications, the expressed purpose of triclosan is to stop the spread of bacteria. You may have even seen that your running shoes have been treated with Microban or Biofresh, codenames for triclosan.

And, while triclosan definitely is very effective at killing all those little bugs, it isn’t strictly necessary. For example, the FDA states that there is no added benefit in having triclosan included in soaps or bodywashes and that products that do contain the chemical aren’t any more effective than those that do not.


Why All The Worry?

If triclosan has been packed i to so many products that we use daily for almost 30 years now, why is everyone suddenly so concerned?

As it turns out, research has found that triclosan could bring with it some very serious side effects. Frighteningly, one of those studies was even redacted by the FDA and kept secret until just this year when a lawsuit dragged them into the light. The hidden findings linked triclosan with birth defects in rats and mice that the researchers later theorized were caused by disruptions to the animals’ hormone systems.

More recent studies have definitively shown that triclosan – even in low levels – does cause problems with the production of several hormones, including thyroid hormone, estrogen and testosterone. Because of this connection, some experts warn that there could be an increased risk of breast cancer when using triclosan.

As triclosan’s defenders have been quick to point out, though, these findings have yet to be replicated in humans. Still, if this stuff creates this sort of havoc in the bodies of mice, rats and frogs, we have to wonder what it’s doing to us.

Other studies have shown that triclosan can accumulate in your system after years of exposure, regardless of the source. This means that whether you ingest small amounts of the chemical from your toothpaste of rub it on your skin as lotion, it’s getting in to your blood stream.

If, after reviewing the information, you’d rather limit your exposure to triclosan, here is a list of common products that contain the chemical (courtesy of BeyondPesticides.com). Keep in mind that this list is not, by any means comprehensive. If you really want to get this stuff out of your life, start checking labels.

Soap: Dial® Liquid handsoap and bodywash; Tea Tree Therapy™ Liquid Soap; Clearasil® Daily Face Wash; Dermalogica® Skin Purifying Wipes; DermaKleen™ Antibacterial Lotion Soap; CVS Antibacterial Soap, Ajax Antibacterial Dishsoap, Ultra Concentrated Dawn Antibacterial Dishsoap, Kimcare Antibacterial Clear Soap, Bath and Body Works Antibacterial Hand Soaps, Gels and Foaming Sanitizers.

Dental Care: Colgate Total®; Breeze™ Daily Mouthwash; Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush

Cosmetics: Garden Botanika® Powder Foundation; Mavala Lip Base; Movate® Skin Litening Cream HQ; Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb, Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss, Babor Volume Mascara, Phytomer Perfect Visage Gentle Cleansing Milk, Phytomer Hydracontinue Instant Moisture Cream, Bath and Body Works Antibacterial Moisturizing Lotions.

Deodorant: Arm and Hammer® Essentials Natural Deodorant; Queen Helene® Tea Trea Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant; DeCleor Deodorant Stick; Epoch® Deodorant with Citrisomes.

First Aid: SyDERMA® Skin Protectant plus First Aid Antiseptic; Healwell Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint; Solarcaine® First Aid Medicated Spray; Nexcare™ First Aid, Skin Crack Care; : Universal Cervical Collar with Microban.

Kitchenware: Farberware® Microban Cutting Boards; Franklin Machine Products FMP Ice Cream Scoop SZ 20 Microban; Hobart Semi-Automatic Slicer; Chix® Food Service Wipes with Microban; Compact Web Foot® Wet Mop Heads.

Other Personal Care Products: Murad Acne Complex® Kit, ®; Diabet-x™ Cream; Scunci Microban Comb, Sportslick Pocket Slick.

Clothes: Biofresh® socks, undergarments, tops and bottoms.

Office and School Products: Ticonderoga® Pencils with Microban Protection, Avery® Touchgaurd View Binders, C-line® products, Clauss® cutting instruments, Costco® products, Sharp® printing calculators. Westcott® scissors

Other: Bionare® Cool Mist Humidifier; Deciguard AB® Antimicrobial Ear Plugs; Bauer® Re-Akt hockey helmet and 7500 hockey helment; Miller Paint Acro Pure Interior Paint; Holmes Foot Buddy™ HMH120U Antimicrobial Foot Buddy Foot Warmer, Blue Mountain Wall Coverings, California Paints®, Davis Paint® Perfection, Hirschfield’s Paint®,O’Leary Paint®, EHC AMRail Escalator Handrails, Dupont™ Air Filters, Winix Dehumidifiers, J Cloth® towels, select Quickie cleaning products, Kimberly Clark® WYPALL X80 Towels, Canopy® kitchen towels, ALUF Plastics®, BioEars earplugs, Petmate® LeBistro feeders and waterers, Infantino cart covers and baby carriers, Oreck XL®, Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum™, NuTone® Central Vacuum systems, Rival® Seal-A-Meal® Vacuum Food Sealer, CleenFreek SportsHygiene Yoga Mat, Resilite Sports Products, Rubbermaid® Coolers, Stufitts sports gear, Venture Products® fitness mats, Custom Building Products, DAP®Kwik Seal Plus®, Laticrete, Niasa Biquichamp® mortar grout and sealant, ProAdvanced Products.








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About jonathan.thompson

Jonathan Thompson is a Certified Personal Trainer and Running Coach with the American Council on Exercise, specializing in nutrition. In addition to his real-world experience working with clients, his articles and blogs on fitness advice have been published on many websites and magazines.