Most of us know to avoid parabens, fragrances, sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, and propylene glycol in our personal products, but has anyone heard of triclosan?
Triclosan was patented in 1964 and by the 1970s was widely used as an anti- microbial in soap. In fact, dial soap used triclosan and marketed their products as a way to kill skin bacteria and therefore improve your smell all day.
But with increased concerns of resistant bacteria, in addition to realizing that antibiotics are now found throughout our environment (even in the arctic!), the FDA did a study. In 2016, they told makers of soap who used triclosan they needed to prove that having triclosan in soap is more effective than using regular soap without triclosan. In reality, having triclosan in the soap does reduce bacteria on the skin after washing (good and bad bacteria), but that’s not the concern the FDA had. The concern was does using triclosan reduce the chances of become ill from bacteria more than simply washing with regular soap and water for the recommended 30 seconds.
No studies could prove that using triclosan kept people from getting sick more often than washing with simple soap and water. And yet now many articles written on the topic claim that research on triclosan is inconclusive.
But, thankfully, the FDA saw the dangers of triclosan. It’s now highly prevalent in the environment. It’s shown to be an endocrine disrupter. It’s suggested to contribute to allergies (including peanut) due to the immune system needing exposure to bacteria to develop. Triclosan crosses the skin barrier and is often found in breast milk. And studies are starting to strongly suggest that triclosan is a cause of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Resistant bacteria (sometimes called super bugs) is a huge growing concern. Even the World Health Organization considers resistant bacteria one of the biggest threats to global health. The current data from the CDC (a report from 2013) claims 2 million people get resistant bacteria a year and about 23,000 die. But a more recent study in Europe (November 2018) estimates 33,000 deaths per year just in Europe from antibiotic-resistant bacteria! Currently, no one is developing new antibiotics to fight these superbugs.
Can you imagine getting a superbug from a tooth extraction, cesarean delivery, minor surgery, being in the hospital for a minor concern, or simply from going grocery shopping?!
In 2020, the FDA will no longer allow triclosan in soap or hand-sanitizers. The risk of using triclosan is greater than the risk of not using it. But so many products not regulars by the FDA still use triclosan. Check your pots and pans, mattress, cutting board, deodorant, body wash, wipes, toothpaste, underwear, makeup, dish soap, wound disinfectant, anything that claims to be anti-microbial could (and most likely does) have triclosan.
How do we fight resistant bacteria? Stop adding to the creation of super bugs by not using anti-microbial products. Wash your hands with regular soap and water for a good 30 seconds. Stop eating sugar, processed foods, and carbohydrates that the body recognizes as sugar. Bacteria feed on these foods. Strengthen your immune system with what actually works like sunshine, exercise, probiotics, and tons of veggies (especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, kale, collard greens, etc.)
When you need to quickly sanitize your hands, consider an alcohol-based sanitizer. But limit use as bitter flavors (to keep people from drinking it) and additives to create a gel consistency are not ideal for regular use. And the alcohol is drying and kills good and bad bacteria.
Look for these words when reading labels; like many chemicals, triclosan hides under different names: Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, Microban, 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol, trichloro-2′-hydroxydiphenylether, and 2,4,4′-trichloro-2′-hydroxydiphenyl etherIt, and triclocarban.
I get that living in today’s world, it’s hard cutting out all the bad stuff. Try starting from the other direction, and cut everything other than absolute necessities. Then find safe options for needed products like toothpaste, soap, and laundry soap. Instead of having 4 nice smelling soaps for each member of the family, find one safe soap for everyone to share. You will save money and be healthier! Sometimes better health comes from what we avoid, more than what we include in our lives.