Triclosan in the news
There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about the potential health and environmental hazards of triclosan.
Last September, the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of 2,000 soaps and other antibacterial products in the U.S. The FDA justified its decision saying that there is no evidence these products are more effective, and that the chemicals they contain may pose health hazards, with triclosan being at the top of the list of these hazardous ingredients.
Triclosan was initially used by surgeons to disinfect their hands before surgery. Today, it can be widely found in everyday consumer products. So much so, in fact, that traces of this chemical can be found in the urine of 75% of all Americans. According to the FDA, the use of antibacterial soap is unnecessary outside of hospitals and clinics. Instead, it encourages people to practice good hand washing techniques.
What is triclosan?
Triclosan is used to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and mould, as well as to control odours in certain cosmetics and personal care products. It is also used as a preservative in textiles and leather, paper, plastic and rubber.
Approximately 1,600 cosmetics and personal care products and 150 health products containing triclosan are currently sold in Canada. Among others, it is found in antibacterial soaps, acne products, first aid products, toothpaste, mouthwash, moisturizing lotions, shaving creams, deodorants, kitchen utensils, cutting boards, garbage bags, shower curtains, socks, sports clothes, toys, computer keyboards, paints and medical equipment
Environmental and health concerns
It’s important to note that the presence of a chemical in the body does not necessarily imply an effect on health. A number of factors, such as the quantity, duration, time of exposure and toxicity of the substance also have to be taken into consideration when determining whether or not the substance will have a detrimental effect on health.
Triclosan penetrates the skin and is suspected of interfering with the hormonal system (otherwise known as an endocrine disruptor). Moreover, bacteria develop resistance to this type of product and can pass this resistance on to other bacteria or eventually develop resistance to multiple antibiotics.
The quantity of triclosan being released into the environment can also harm the flora and fauna of lakes, rivers and streams. Triclosan is found in rivers and lakes because wastewater treatment systems only partially remove it.
Worried about using products containing triclosan? Read the product label! In Canada, all cosmetic products, including soaps, must list all ingredients on the label. If a product contains triclosan, it will be listed. This allows consumers to identify and avoid products that contain potentially hazardous ingredients.
Although there are no Canadian laws for the moment banning the use of triclosan, a number of companies (including Sani Marc!) are putting the health of our planet and its inhabitants first. They are following in the footsteps of our southern neighbours and have eliminated triclosan from their products (triclosan can be replaced by other ingredients for certain uses). Stay informed!