Antibacterial soap is the kind of household product that is so common we hardly question its presence in kitchens and bathrooms. We use it before preparing food, after using the bathroom, and to ensure we don’t catch our office neighbor’s nasty seasonal cold. But a new study suggests that a chemical used in many antibacterial products, triclosan, very quickly affects muscle functions in animals and fish.
In this study, led by Dr. Isaac Pessah of UC Davis, scientists introduced levels of triclosan to animals and fish that match what a typical human is exposed to in a normal day. The Telegraph reports that the study found muscle function and heart function were both noticeably reduced, and fish were unable to swim as well as they had prior to exposure to the chemical.
The scientists applied electrical stimulus to the test animals’ muscles after daily exposure to the chemical and found that their muscles did not immediately contract as they should have. Grip strength in mice sank by 18% after they were exposed to triclosan.
Anaesthetized mice were found to have a reduced heart function of up to 25 percent. Researchers said that triclosan, for all intents and purposes, worked as a serious cardiac depressant for the mice involved in the study. Perhaps the most startling aspect of this new research is that triclosan is found in all sorts of daily hygiene products, such as toothpaste, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and even bedding.
The study has not been expanded to include triclosan’s effects on the human muscle and skeletal functions, but the new research has shown that the chemical likely has a huge impact on human muscle function, too, especially since it is in so many of our daily products. As Dr. Pessah told journalists, “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.” Unfortunately, we know that this chemical has been added to a myriad of household products on the current market and many of us have probably been exposed to a dangerous chemical for many months when everyone thought we were keeping the seasonal flu away.
For now, researchers have concluded that the risks of exposure to triclosan far outweigh any of the benefits. Since it has such powerful effects on muscle and skeletal structure, it acts as a type of drug and could be particularly harmful to those with heart problems alreday. I guess we will all think twice before using antibacterial soap so often every day.
Photo Credit: Serenity