Now that flu season is in full swing, soaps and hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves. Although this is a great thing, as washing hands is one of the best ways of preventing disease, many of these cleaning products contain a hidden chemical: triclosan. Triclosan is added to soaps, hand sanitizers and other cleansing agents to kill bacteria. However, it has some downsides that make it toxic both to human health and the environment.
Why Manufacturers Add Triclosan to Hand Sanitizer
Triclosan was first used in hospitals in the 1970s as a way to kill bacteria. As an antibacterial and antifungal agent, it effectively kills potential pathogens. As consumers became more concerned about the spread of germs, manufacturers began adding the chemical to dozens of products. Today, the use of triclosan is ubiquitous. It is found in soaps, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorant and pesticides.
Downsides of Triclosan in Cleaning Products
The Food and Drug Administration does not currently consider triclosan to be hazardous to human health. However, several research studies conducted with animals have found that triclosan causes changes to hormone regulation. If this is also true in humans, it may have serious implications for health. Triclosan may also lead to liver toxicity and thyroid problems.
Even more worrisome is the potential for antibiotic resistance when using triclosan. Bacteria are continuously evolving to become more effective at infecting their hosts — us. Widespread use of triclosan means that bacteria are familiar with the chemical and may be evolving to become immune to its effects. Over time, this may cause the rise of “superbugs” that resist our common antibiotic treatments.
Finally, triclosan is damaging to the natural environment. Because the chemical is not removed by water treatment plants, it enters the water system. As a toxin, triclosan can seriously harm aquatic life.
Prevent Antibiotic Resistance By Choosing Products Without Triclosan
Infectious disease control is important, but it doesn’t depend on triclosan. Washing with plain, non-antibacterial soap and water is just as effective as products containing triclosan. To keep yourself and the environment safe, read labels to choose products without triclosan or its relative, triclocarban. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also fine.
When it comes to cleaning, it is possible to prevent the spread of germs without resorting to harmful triclosan. EcoShield has a proprietary line of cleaning products that are tough on germs but gentle on health and the environment. For household or commercial cleaning services, EcoShield provides top quality germ control without the downsides of triclosan.