Helpful Products May Be Detrimental
In the early 1970’s, a chemical called Triclosan was introduced, and used in hospital and surgical environments as an antibacterial product. Since then, it’s made its way into consumer products like soap, toothpaste, and other personal care wares. What’s wrong with hospital-grade, bacteria killing chemicals being added to cosmetics and other household items most of us use every day? A lot.
There is a fundamental and wide spread misconception that “anti-bacterial” equals better. An article entitled “Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?” that appeared in the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases concludes that antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps . We’ve also heard concern about resistant bacterial strains developing with the overuse of antibacterial products. Most of the public is already terrified of big bad bacteria, the last thing we need is to promote the development of the “Incredible Hulk” version.
Triclosan, specifically, has it’s own batch of problems. Researchers have linked it to muscle and strength problems . Fish exposed to Triclosan were observed to have trouble swimming and were made more vulnerable to predators — that’s not comforting. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, the chemical makeup of Triclosan is similar to other environmental toxins and studies are re-evaluating its risk assessment and whether it should be included in consumer products… forty years after its introduction and subsequent infection into a huge list of common products. What damage has already been caused by this exposure?
Every year we battle a new variation of the flu. And every year, toxic, common chemicals, like Triclosan, get shuffled from the “good” column to the “bad.” Personally, I’d rather take my chances with the flu.
- Aiello AE, Larson EL, Levy SB. Consumer antibacterial soaps: effective or just risky? Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Sep 1;45 Suppl 2:S137-47. Review.
- Michelle Castillo. Antibacterial agent Triclosan shown to hinder muscle movement in mice, fish. CBS News. 2012 August 14.