This is Day 106 of the Green in 365 series!
So we began talking about the ingredients in our personal care products a few weeks ago, checking the ingredient labels on our cosmetics, and a list of top 10 ingredients to avoid. But there is one ingredient on that list that I believe deserves a little more discussion, and an extra encouragement to make sure you remove it from the products you use in your home.
That ingredient is Triclosan, found in hundreds of anti-bacterial personal care and cleaning products used in homes around our country every single day.
Triclosan is actually a pesticide and is used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. The main issue with Triclosan is that it doesn’t actually work for decreasing sickness and infection, and it can lead to anti-biotic resistance and super bugs.
Here is some important information about Triclosan:
1. Plain soap, water, and scrubbing has been shown to be just as effective for killing germs and decreasing the spread of infection, according to the FDA. In fact, since 2002, the American Medical Association has recommended that Triclosan not be used in the home because it could actually encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
2. Antibacterial products cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria, they kill both. There are actually bacteria that are good for us, also known as “pro-biotics”, they help our digestive systems, and help keep us healthy. Triclosan kills these good bacteria right along with the bad.
3. There are some bacteria that are not killed off by antibacterial products, and these bacteria can then reproduce and proliferate, creating “super bugs” that are resistant to Triclosan and possibly other antibacterial agents.
4. Most illnesses, like colds and flu, that we are trying to avoid, are viruses anyway and an antibacterial product would have no different effect on them than non-antibacterial. Again, washing hands with plain soap and water is effective in keeping germs at bay.
5. When we use antibacterial products to wash our hands or clean our homes we are releasing Triclosan out into the environment where it is killing off good and bad bacteria, and possibly creating “super bugs” – see # 3
6. Triclosan has been found in newborn babies and also in human breast milk. As a mama to a young nursing baby, this is alarming to me. Because waste water treatment plants cannot completely remove Triclosan from our water it ends up in our rivers, lakes and sources for drinking water. Water that we as pregnant and nursing mothers drink, and then is passed on to our babies.
7. Triclosan is toxic to aquatic wildlife. So, the fact that it is in our rivers and lakes means that it is polluting and affecting those ecosystems, and the plant and animal life found there.
8. There have not been enough studies done on the effects of Triclosan on the body, especially the bodies of young children and babies. And our children are being exposed to Triclosan through sources beyond just antibacterial soap. As a mother of three young children this concerns me.
9. The number and type of products that include Triclosan is staggering. Take a look at your toothpaste, deodorant, face soap, even lotion. Also, it is used in household products such as shower curtains, plastic food containers, and even mattresses. Here’s just a short list of some of the products containing Triclosan.
10. In animal studies, Triclosan has been linked to cancer, developmental defects, liver and inhalation toxicity, as well as affecting thyroid function. And when Triclosan interacts with other chemicals, it can form other toxic compounds such as chloroform, a possible carcinogen, as well as dioxin, which is known as one of the most toxic compounds.
For all of these reasons, for the safety of our family and of our environment, our family has made a commitment not to use products containing Triclosan. We know that plain soap and water will kill germs and help to keep us from getting sick, and we don’t want to contribute to anti-bacterial resistance in our world.
I hope that you and your family will also make the change to stop using antibacterial soaps, cleaners and other products containing Triclosan in your home.
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