Triclosan May Impair Muscle Function

We already know that triclosan – the antibacterial added to many soaps, deodorants and hand sanitizers – is bad for public health and for the environment, but a new study shows that it might also impair muscle function.

According to research coming out of the University of California and the University of Colorado, animals exposed to triclosan experience problems with muscle activity. Often in studies like this, the animals are exposed to much higher amounts of a chemical than humans normally encounter, but in these studies researchers approximated the amount of triclosan that people would encounter in our day to day. Mice in one such study had decreased muscle contractions, including in their hearts.

Related Reading: The Dangers of Triclosan and How to Avoid It

Study co-author Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis said:

The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic. Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.

There needs to be more research before scientists can say for certain that triclosan could impair muscle function in humans, but in the meantime, keeping it out of your home is the best way to minimize your exposure. You can find triclosan in many cosmetics – from soap to toothpaste – so careful label-reading is your friend.

Triclosan has quite a few negative effects on our environment, but this research highlights an unexpected impact. Read about how muscle impairment could damage fragile ecosystems on the next page.

Muscle Impairment Could Damage Fragile Ecosystems

The researchers also looked at how triclosan affected muscle function in fish, since after it goes down our drains at home, triclosan eventually makes its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans. Fish exposed to triclosan for just one week had impaired swimming abilities, which in the wild would make them more vulnerable to predators. That means that triclosan in our water could be disrupting the balance of those ecosystems.

Bruce Hammock professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who was also a study co-author said:

We were surprised by the large degree to which muscle activity was impaired in very different organisms and in both cardiac and skeletal muscle. You can imagine in animals that depend so totally on muscle activity that even a 10-percent reduction in ability can make a real difference in their survival.

Because triclosan is such a common ingredient in over the counter products, we’re washing the stuff down our drains – and eventually into our water systems – every day. This research makes a strong case for getting the triclosan out of consumer products to protect wildlife.

Triclosan was always considered acceptable in hospitals, but this new research throws doubt on its safety in some clinical settings. On the next page, we’ll look at where more research is needed and where triclosan could be doing more harm than good.

heart monitor

Triclosan in Hospitals

Triclosan is ubiquitous in clinical settings. It’s a powerful antibacterial, which makes it useful for hospitals, for example, where infections can be deadly. Even in hospitals, though, this research calls triclosan’s usefulness into question.

Because it impairs muscle and heart function, triclosan could to more harm than good for patients with cardiovascular problems. There hasn’t been any research yet on whether triclosan has the same muscle-impairing effects on humans as it does on mice and fish. Chiamvimonvat explains:

In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used. However, without additional studies, it would be difficult for a physician to distinguish between natural disease progression and an environmental factor such as triclosan.

Triclosan is unregulated, which means you can find it in a myriad of consumer cosmetics. If you want to reduce your exposure, always read the ingredients on cosmetics before you buy. You might be surprised about where triclosan is hiding in your medicine cabinet.

The Dangers of Triclosan & How to Avoid It
Why Kids Need Dirt
The Trouble With Triclosan in Your Soap


Melania Padilla
Melania P3 years ago

Don´t use antibacterial soap, thanks for posting!

Sheri P.
Sheri P4 years ago

i've avoided anti-bacterial handsoap for years now...

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B4 years ago

I had no idea.

Ra-Ana G.
Ra-Ana G4 years ago

I had no idea...Thx for the info...especially going to pass it on to family members with small children!

Jeni G.
Jennifer G4 years ago

Yep, avoid it whenever I can - I have never liked using the chemically antibacterial stuff on my skin or in my home. If I really need to, I grab some tea tree oil or something.

Michael C.
Michael C4 years ago

The use of anti-bacterial soap should remain a seldom used product.

Do any of you remember Hexachlorophene, it was used in surgical soaps. it often contained small trace amounts of Dioxin. Exposure to such, results in Chloracne or worse, resulting in facial disfigurement, a life threatening menace.

So potentially dangerous that the US banned its use for everyone but professional use.

I was sent to Seveso, Italy, after the "accident", in which TCP was released into the atmosphere, upon a population who unwittingly remained and in the end, suffered greatly.
The greater problem was that, when TCP is heated beyond 240F (115.5 C), Dioxin is produced.

Trichlorophenol (TCP), the herbicide 2,4,5-T, often referred to as Agent Orange, is one of the most teratogenic chemicals known to man. America dumped 20,000,000 US gallons of it on the Vietnamese people. Just this week, American teams began attempting to clean up the mess or at least, try to mitigate its effect on the human population. A bit late, don't you think?

In Seveso and all around for thirty miles, it was sight out of Dante's Inferno, thousands of dead birds, cows, horses, everything for miles...either dead or dying. It was a sight, that I find, as bad as war itself. It is a sight that remains with me today and haunts me so.
Perhaps, this why I have become such a mad dog environmentalist, that and Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring.

This was an industrial "accident" that would have sent Rachel Carson ru

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

But yes, I do try to avoid it..............

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago

Everything and anything is dangerous......., even life. You might die of it some day........

Geela Green
Geela Green4 years ago

Now, I know not to use those anti-bacterial soaps.

Geela Green
Geela Green4 years ago

Now, I know not to use those anti-bacterial soaps.