The Redundant Pollutant

Many people will find themselves in a supermarket aisle triumphantly choosing the antibacterial soap over their preferred beauty soap brand (which smells nice too) just so that they can rest easy knowing they’ve done something good for their families awaiting soap at home. Unfortunately, there is no resting easy as triclosan, the most prevalent commercial antibacterial agent found in hand soaps and most other household products, is not proven to add any extra benefits when compared to products not containing triclosan. 42 years of FDA and extensive independent research has not been able to provide any concrete evidence either. 

Triclosan doesn’t seem to have any love for the environment either. Conatural products are conceived with due consideration to the long and short term to our precious ecosystems. We at Conatural don’t use triclosan and with good reason. Treatment at municipal sewage plants aimed at removing harmful chemical substances including triclosan are less than 50% effective at removing more than 75% of the substance from our water systems. And that’s for regions where the municipal water systems are actually up and running and doing their jobs. Municipal waste management facilities use special types of bacteria to break down solid substances in water waste and to treat sewer sludge. Triclosan interferes with the action of the bacteria breaking down and makes water and sewage disposal systems less effective. Triclosan has been found to be a substantive bio-hazard to aquatic ecosystems. It is able to transform the structure of algal communities, affecting neighbouring and co-dependent aquatic life and plants alike. Triclosan is also found to disrupt hormone ability in various fish species, increasing the risk of endocrine system related disorders. Doses of triclosan have been regularly appearing in marine life from microorganisms to dolphins, even earthworms and land animals and plants that are co-dependent.

 Designed for use to employ its antibacterial and anti fungal properties, triclosan is found in more and more products including mattress pads and sanitary napkins, all in the effort to make the world around us more germ-free. Alternatively, the increased use of triclosan in an increasing number of products is only increasing allergic sensitization by killing off acclimatizing bacteria. Similar to the way in which taking antibiotics at a higher rate decreases the body’s natural immune system’s ability to function properly, triclosan reduces our bodies bacterial resistance by relaxing our natural defence mechanisms.

Furthermore, triclosan can penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream, even if not through the use of soap on the body, but through inhaling dust and washing with just plain water; 75% of US adults tested positive for triclosan traces in urine samples. Triclosan entering the body and especially the blood stream is alarming for what it does once inside your body. It interferes with the liver and the prevalent protein that works to detoxify alien substances from the body, the liver either then goes into overtime or on vacation. Hence, the mice models treated with triclosan showed larger and more frequent chemical induced liver tumours than mice models not treated with triclosan.  

Better to be safe than sorry, so on May 16, 2014, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed a bill banning the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products sold in the state. The ban is set to take effect January 1, 2017. Ongoing research points in the direction that we too should not throw caution to the wind and weed out triclosan-containing products from our already heavily chemical ridden lives.