most washed-up: triclosan

Since Triclosan’s debut role over thirty years ago, the FDA has allowed him to star in personal-care products, but has yet to implement a rule book for this bad boy. Companies cast Triclosan in a vast array of products we use on our skin and in our mouths, and on our babies and kids, even though he builds up in our bodies and has been linked to harm. His ties to cancer, thyroid disruption, and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” may have begun to impact his career.
Triclosan has played several roles as an antibacterial hero; fighting germs, mold and odor, but as it turns out, this so-called clean chemical plays dirty. His work has opened many doors for fellow bad actors, such as Dioxin, Methyl Triclosan and Chloroform.  Critics have found that the hype around Triclosan’s supposed ability to prevent illness isn’t fully warranted: Triclosan is no more effective than the timeless performers, Regular Soap and Water.

  • Triclosan’s leading role is in approximately 75% of liquid hand soaps in the United States, but he also regularly appears in dish soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, antiperspirants, cutting boards, toys, fabrics and other everyday products. Despite his reputation as a “squeaky clean” actor, Triclosan has been negatively impacting the health of humans and our aquatic ecosystem.
  • Triclosan knows just how to get under his audience’s skin!  He is found in most American bodies and in 75% of urine samples in a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety determined that even small amounts of Triclosan can set off antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and Canada has banned Triclosan from consumer products.
  • In 2009, Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, along with 86 other nonprofit groups filed a petition with the U.S. EPA asking the agency to consider banning Triclosan in consumer products. In 2011 the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and other environmental health organizations have asked the EPA and the FDA to ban Triclosan from household products, and asked consumers to take the Triclosan-Free Pledge.

Actor: Kevin Carter. Photo by: Patricia Mateos Ballestero.


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