Originally published March 15 2007
Antibacterial soap ingredient triclosan may be harmful to humans
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
Triclosan, widely used as an antibacterial ingredient in household hand sterilization products, breaks down rapidly when exposed to chlorinated water and produces toxic chemicals including chloroform, according to a study published on the Environmental Science & Technology research website As Soon As Publishable (ASAP), suggesting that many antibacterial products may not only be ineffective, but harmful.
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What you need to know - Conventional View• A previous study demonstrated that pure triclosan reacts with free chlorine to produce chloroform, a toxic chemical and probable carcinogen.
• This 2005 study led to the removal of all triclosan-containing products from the British chain Marks & Spencer, as well as all triclosan-containing toothpaste from stores in China.
• In the new study, the same researchers from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University tested 16 household products, including lotions, soaps and body washes. All the products containing triclosan produced either chloroform or other chlorine byproducts when exposed to tap water.
• The researchers found that people using these products would be exposed to chloroform levels 40 percent higher than that found in tap water.
• Triclosan decomposes into chlorine byproducts in as little as one minute when exposed to chlorinated water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature commonly reached in household use. This led the researchers to question whether triclosan-containing soaps even provide the purported anti-bacterial benefit.
• Quote: "At fairly low levels of chlorine, the triclosan degrades rapidly [into chlorine byproducts]." - Researcher Peter Vikesland
What you need to know - Alternative ViewStatements and opinions by Mike Adams, executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center
• What this groundbreaking study reveals is that antibacterial products containing triclosan are a hoax. This chemical is proving to be a real threat to human health, and that doesn't even include the fact that it can accelerate the breeding of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
• I strongly advise consumers to avoid purchasing antibacterial products made with triclosan. Use natural products containing tea tree oil or other herbal ingredients that are naturally antibacterial.
Resources you need to know• Worldwatch Institute page on triclosan: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/1501
Bottom line• Antibacterial ingredient triclosan degrades rapidly when exposed to chlorinated tap water, producing potentially toxic byproducts.
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