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The Dangers of Triclosan & How to Avoid It

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The Dangers of Triclosan & How to Avoid It

Triclosan, the controversial disinfectant that many associate with hand sanitizers, is actually in all manner of cosmetics and personal care products.

The Trouble with Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial, meaning that it kills harmful microorganisms. This can definitely be a good thing. If you’re in the hospital, for example, you want to know that everything from the nurses’ and doctors’ hands to their instruments are completely sterile. In a case like this, I think that you could make a pretty strong argument for using antimicrobials like triclosan.

The big problem with triclosan is that it’s become ubiquitous. It’s in a host of over the counter personal care products, and that means that it’s also in our bodies and washing down our drains.

There are quite a few health concerns associated with triclosan. It’s a suspected endocrine disruptor and carcinogen that accumulates in the body over time. Since it’s in so many products, many of us are exposed to triclosan on a daily basis through multiple products in our daily routine.

When triclosan makes its way into waterways, it breaks down into harmful dioxins, polluting waterways. When triclosan goes down the drain, it also gets mixed up with sewage sludge, and from there makes its way into our food supply. How does that happen? It turns out that EPA allows sewage sludge to be used as a fertilizer on food crops.

Over time, organisms that triclosan targets also start becoming resistant to the chemical. That’s bad news if you’re counting on the stuff to sterilize an operating room, for example. When we over-use these harsh chemicals, we make them less effective for situations where they could have been beneficial.

>>Next: Common products that contain Triclosan.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

122 comments

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11:34AM PDT on May 24, 2014

One day, our paranoia about "microbes" and taking unlimited baths, etc. will be looked back on with the same disdain we view the silly habits of the Victorians. Unfortunately, their wrapping everything with mosquito netting to avoid fly specks didn't kill them. Ours is.

7:02AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

This is good to know. I much prefer natural (and being healthier) to any chemical.

2:12AM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Interesting and alarming - thank you!

7:22PM PST on Dec 22, 2013

I thought this Triclosan was only in hand sanitizers, so I didn't give it much thought. I believe, we need contact with germs to build up our immunity. And all this time it was perhaps in my toothpaste or mouthwash or wherever that stuff is hiding. Thank you for your warning.

9:06AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

wow! noted with gratitude

8:41AM PST on Dec 22, 2013

This is REALLY SCARY STUFF ! .........
When will this MADNESS END!?

5:47AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Thanks for the information. Worth thinking about.

11:33AM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

noted

3:10AM PDT on Jul 5, 2011

Thanks for the warning.

5:59PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Humans are mad!

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