Do you use hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste, acne products, shaving gel, makeup, or hand sanitizer? The answer, for most of us at least, is a resounding yes. But did you know that all of these personal care products can contain a potentially dangerous ingredient called triclosan? The potential triclosan dangers for your health may make products with triclosan risky to use. Learn how to avoid this chemical by choosing healthier alternatives for you and your family.
What is triclosan?
Triclosan is used as a strong antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is often used in consumer products to prevent contamination of the product. In many cases, it is included in products like hand soaps and hand sanitizers labeled antibacterial.
Triclosan is absorbed into the blood stream after exposure either through topical application to the skin or through oral use (such as with toothpaste). It’s found in the urine of most Americans.
Triclosan is considered an endocrine disruptor, a compound that interferes with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. It may disrupt the activity of hormones like thyroid hormones. At this point, studies in humans are lacking, but in animals, triclosan exposure disrupts hormone functioning and leads to reproductive issues, developmental problems, nervous system impairment, and inhibition of muscle function.[2,3]
Triclosan may produce carcinogenic compounds as a by-product and there is concern over the possibility of triclosan raising the risk for some cancers.[4,5] It may also contribute to antibiotic resistance, which could be a major public health problem.
In humans, triclosan is associated with irritation of the eyes and skin, and an increased risk for allergies and asthma.[2,6]
Do the benefits of triclosan outweigh the risks?
You only want to use something with so many potential dangers if it is worth the risk. But in the case of triclosan, evidence does not show that it is even very effective as an antibacterial agent. In fact, in a consumer update, the FDA concluded that “at this time, FDA does have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soap and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water.” To lower your risk of exposure to potential triclosan dangers, your best bet is to avoid it completely.
Avoiding products with triclosan
Examples of products that contain triclosan include:
- Colgate Total toothpaste
- Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Hand Soap
- Clearasil Daily Face Wash
- Edge Shave Gel, and more.
Check this list of products with triclosan from by the Environmental Working Group to determine the safety of your product. To make sure your product of choice does not contain triclosan, read ingredient lists carefully before purchasing.
Many companies are slowly and quietly removing triclosan from their products as the growing public concern over the issue rises. For this reason, be sure you are buying products new; some products that no longer contain triclosan may have in the past. If you buy from outlets, online marketplaces such as Amazon, or others places that may keep a large stock, you may accidentally purchase an outdated version of your product that still has triclosan in it.
Share your experience
Do you avoid products that contain triclosan? Do you have any favorite products that no longer use triclosan? What are your favorite natural alternatives? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.