Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products intended to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is regulated as a pesticide under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It can be found in some antibacterial soaps (more on this in a bit), body washes, toothpastes, cosmetics, clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys.
- The majority of triclosan in products ends up washed down the drain.
- After wastewater treatment, triclosan can accumulate in sewage sludge, which, if used for fertilizer, can end up absorbed by plants, including food crops.
- 75% of the U.S. population is likely exposed to triclosan from consumer goods and personal care products that contain triclosan, in addition to environmental exposure through possible triclosan contaminated water and/or animal/food products, and even through breast milk.
- Exposure to triclosan has been associated with endocrine disruption, decreased cardiovascular function, decreased sperm count, reproductive and developmental defects, including higher spontaneous abortion rates, and birth defects, cancer development, and an enhanced risk of asthma, allergies, and food sensitization.
On September 02, 2016, FDA issued a final rule establishing that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.
But, guess what?
This rule does not apply to consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.
Nor the body washes, toothpastes, cosmetics, clothing, kitchenware, furniture, toys, and other many consumer goods still available for use.
So, how the heck can you reduce your exposure to triclosan?
- Read your labels: avoid products with triclosan or triclocarban listed
- Avoid products marketed as “antimicrobial”, “odor fighting”, “germ-killing”, “antibacterial”, or that claims to “keep food fresher, longer”
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Avoid the trade name Microban™ when used in plastics and clothing, and Biofresh™ when used in acrylic fibers
- Peel root vegetables or buy organic as the outer layer of roots may be contaminated if sewage sludge is used as a fertilizer