If you’re using antibacterial soaps, they probably contain the ingredient triclosan. And this antibacterial
agent, which is commonly used in many household products today, may not be
What is it?
Triclosan is a chemical that can inhibit bacterial growth.
Where is it found?
In many household products, including but not limited to:
soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, bodywashes, cleaning products, clothes,
kitchenware, toys, furniture, and products made of wood.
What are the concerns?
This is where it gets confusing. Nothing is proven yet, and
the FDA doesn’t feel that there is enough evidence
of danger from triclosan exposure to warrant removing it from products. The FDA
has enough concern about triclosan,
however, for the agency to be investing time and money in more detailed and
comprehensive research into potential hazards from triclosan, such as:
Bacterial resistance. One concern is that bacteria will
develop resistance to the antibacterial property of triclosan. This is
similar to the increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics from
antibiotic overuse. In fact, the American Medical Association and American
Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that we use plain soaps instead of antibacterial soap products. A plain
bar of soap, it turns out, is just as effective at cleansing hands if proper
handwashing techniques are used.
Environment. The triclosan chemical can also accumulate in
bodies of water, where it has an impact on the environment. Some aquatic
bacteria considered “good” for plant life and sea animals have been shown
to be destroyed by elevated triclosan levels.
Hayfever. Some studies have suggested that people with
increased exposure to triclosan may develop more hayfever and allergies. Again,
this has not been proven.
Hormonal regulation. Some animal studies looking at triclosan
exposure showed alterations in bodily processes such as thyroid regulation
and growth. However, effects observed in animal studies are not
necessarily seen in humans with the same exposure.
What does all this
As with many scientific findings these days, these reports
don’t mean you should panic. However, you should be aware and stay educated
And maybe you’ll want to consider limiting your exposure to
triclosan when possible. Because the FDA regulates items such as soaps, body
wash, mouthwash, and toothpaste, triclosan is required to be listed in the
ingredients. So you can try to find alternatives that don’t contain triclosan
not one to be an alarmist, but I do think that when the FDA becomes concerned
enough to investigate a substance, it can’t hurt for the rest of us to limit
our exposure to that substance while its effects are still being debated.