Triclosan is an anti-bacterial synthetic compound used in A LOT of products like soaps, lotions, creams, deodorants and toothpastes but can also be used as coating on mattresses, hot tubs, clothing and even toys (!)
The first thing you should know is that in 1969, Triclosan was registered as.. a pesticide. Its first use was to kill things. That’s never good.
Like most synthetic chemicals (& pesticides), Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor, which means it changes hormone levels in the body. This affects fertility, normal development in children and of course, leads to cancer. Triclosan also disrupts muscle function. So you get the extent of this: “After mice were exposed to one dose of triclosan, heart muscle function was reduced by 25%, and grip strength was reduced by 18%”. Now keep in mind this stuff is in everything, and you use it many times a day – you brush your teeth with it, you wash your hands with it, you wash your face and your body with it, you spray it on yourself and wash your dishes with it.
Triclosan is only effective when used in emergency situations or on a temporary basis, like for medical reasons in a hospital. “Continued use has the exact opposite effect. Overexposure of this chemical wreaks havoc on the body and causes a slow breakdown of the immune system, dependence on the agent, and antibiotic resistance.”
Indeed, the overuse of Triclosan (specifically) is to blame in the rise of antibacterial-resistant microbes. That means it’s in so many things and so overused that the bacteria have found ways to mutate and bypass it, making them stronger and harder to kill, even with antibiotics. Wanna know just how ‘popular’ this chemical is? Triclosan is currently found in the urine of 3 out of 4 Americans.
To make matters worse, 95% of the Triclosan in use makes its way to our water (through our sinks to the sea), and has been found in high concentrations in lakes and rivers all over the world. Triclosan not only contaminates the water and affects the fish (they have a similar reaction to the mice and their swimming is affected), which disturbs marine life as a whole, but – wait for it..
When triclosan mixes with chlorinated water (like it does at many drinking water-treatment plants) it produces chloroform gas!!!
Researchers have found that it is possible for chloroform to be produced when a soap containing Triclosan mixes with chlorinated water, which is then absorbed through the skin or inhaled. That means if you live in a country that has chlorinated tap water, like the UK, everytime you wash your hands or your body, you are at risk. If inhaled in large enough quantities, chloroform can cause depression, liver problems and over time, cancer.
Europe, Canada & Japan have all (recently) banned this chemical, but look out for it anyway. In the US, as with fluoride and countless other dangerous chemicals, it is almost impossible to prove that the chemical in question is to blame for the array of long-term health problems, so it will not likely get taken out of the market anytime soon. It’s up to you to avoid it and not buy products that contain it. Read labels & spend your money wisely. Avoid anti-bacterial products as a whole. Europeans, if you travel overseas frequently, make sure you check labels!
Check this post for more info on triclosan, including lists of products that contain it (mostly US based).