A chemical called triclosan
poses a health risk, as it is a toxic compound which can
promote cancer. The most shocking thing is that triclosan
is commonly found in everyday consumer goods such as antibacterial
soaps, deodorants, body washes, creams, lotions, cosmetics,
cleaning supplies, detergents, dishwashing liquids, and
yes, mouthwash and toothpaste.
Toothpaste is supposed to help clean your teeth, but what
it actually does just might horrify you. When tap water
meets toothpaste, the triclosan reacts freely with the
chlorine in the tap
water to become chloroform (a chlorinated aromatic)
and is similar to the dioxins found in the compound Agent
Orange. It's a chemical reaction occurring right in your
mouth while you brush your teeth. And don't think you
are safe once you rinse it all out of your mouth: research
shows that it can remain in your mouth after brushing
for up to 12 hours, and can be easily absorbed into the
tongue and through mucus into the body. (Children are
at the greatest risk, as they tend to swallow their toothpaste
more while brushing their teeth.)
According to the National Coalition Against the Misuse
of Pesticides (NCAMP), "Manufacturers of a number of triclosan-containing
toothpaste and soap products claim that the active ingredient
continues to work for as long as 12 hours after use. Thus,
consumers are exposed to triclosan
for much longer than the 20 seconds it takes to wash their
hands or brush their teeth."
"These products produce low levels of chloroform, but
that adds up over time. The amount of gas formed is very
low but I think the key thing is that we just don't know
what the effects are. However, manufacturers do have to
list triclosan on their ingredients, so if consumers are
worried the best advice is to avoid products with the
chemical," said Giles Watson, a toxicology expert.
Triclosan is a Probable Human Carcinogen
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European
Union currently regulate triclosan, and the Environmental
Protection Agency classifies this substance as a probable
Toothpaste manufacturers claim that triclosan is used
because it helps to reduce plaque and kill bacteria,
but it actually aids in gum damage and can cause mouth
ulcers, say some health experts. These companies like
the chemical because it allows them to state the product
is a "99.9% bacteria killer" and make claims about the
product being a "medicated formula."
According to the chemical creator's website, Ciba Specialty
Chemicals "invented triclosan more than 35 years ago and
in this long time of application without any adverse effects
it has proven itself as the 'aspirin' of the antibacterial
actives -- helpful without side effects.
"The popularity of triclosan is a reflection of its unique
combination of efficacy against almost all types of bacteria
and safety to man and nature which with the currently
known substances used cannot be surmounted."
The toothpaste manufacturers haven't done any substantial
studies that reach a decision on whether to take triclosan
out of their products. They continue to say that it is
safe and only harmful if ingested. Even then, they say
it only affects the nervous system (as if that's something
very minor to have harmed).
No Good Science Supporting Safety of Triclosan
According to the American Medical Association: "Despite
their recent proliferation in consumer products, the use
of antimicrobial agents such as triclosan in consumer
products has not been studied extensively. No data exist
to support their efficacy when used in such products or
any need for them.it may be prudent to avoid the use of
antimicrobial agents in consumer products."
The chemical company states: "Ciba supports the use of
triclosan only if there is a benefit to human beings."
So, what if it is shown to offer no benefit to humans?
Will they pull it off the shelves now that evidence points
to its danger from exposure? (Some toothpaste manufacturers,
like Tom's of Maine, specifically state that they do not
Also Found In Toys, Bedding, Clothing And More
Triclosan is also used in plastics and fabrics, where
it goes under the trade names Microban and Biofresh respectively.
It is infused into or used as an additive in a number
of consumer products like toys, bedding, trash bags, socks,
kitchen utensils, textiles and plastics.
"Over 95% of the uses of triclosan are in consumer products
that are disposed of in residential drains. 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," according to the NCAMP.
According to Worldwatch Institute: "In the United States,
75% of liquid soaps and nearly 30% of bar soaps now contain
triclosan and other germ-fighting compounds whose prevalence
can foster the growth of bacterial resistance."
The widespread use of triclosan is now known to create
the risk of breeding new, resistant superbugs that may
be far more dangerous to human health than the original
germs killed by triclosan in the first place. My advice
to consumers is to avoid all products containing triclosan.
What To Do
• Avoid all products that make "antibacterial"
claims (unless they are using herbs to accomplish it).
• Be aware of the harmful environmental impact of
consuming products containing triclosan. The ingredient
is not only unhealthy for humans, it's also unhealthy
for the environment.
• Read the ingredients labels of all consumer products
in order to make sure they do not contain triclosan.