Posted by: soapchix | April 10, 2008

More on Triclosan in Antibacterial soaps

I’ve been thinking lately that we should rename our blog to the Soap Box with all of the preaching about parabens and phthalates and the rest of the oh-my-gosh-that’s-in-my-soap list of chemicals we’ve been reporting on. But alas, I must preach some more (and then Tiff and I’ll write more on our fun trip).

I read some more about triclosan today that has me pretty miffed. Triclosan is a chemical used in antibacterial soaps and handwashes. It is used because it is non-drying to your skin, unlike alcohol which is extremely effective in killing germs but can dry your skin. According to the article, when triclosan mixes with chlorine, which is used in most municipal water treatment system as a disinfectant, it forms chloroform. That’s right, chloroform. Chloroform is considered a potential carcinogen. This is what I found on Wikipedia about chloroform:

“Chloroform once appeared in toothpastes, cough syrups, ointments, and other pharmaceuticals, but it has been banned in consumer products in the United States since 1976.[10] The National Toxicology Program’s eleventh report on carcinogens implicates it as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, a designation equivalent to International Agency for Research on Cancer class 2A. It has been most readily associated with hepatocellular carcinoma.”

If you look up chloroform on the Governments ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry) website, it has these bullet points about what happens to chloroform when it enters the environment:

*Chloroform evaporates easily into the air.
*Most of the chloroform in air breaks down eventually, but it is a slow process.
*The breakdown products in air include phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are both toxic.
*It doesn’t stick to soil very well and can travel through soil to groundwater.
*Chloroform dissolves easily in water and some of it may break down to other chemicals.
*Chloroform lasts a long time in groundwater.
*Chloroform doesn’t appear to build up in great amounts in plants and animals.

I’m guessing that if you are inadvertantly creating chloroform when using a product containing triclosan (and mixing with chlorinated water), you are in effect releasing chloroform into the environment. More specifically, you are releasing it into YOUR environment, your home. So, I’m honestly wondering why anyone would choose to use this stuff. But I think the answer is that most of us simply don’t know about it and that is distressing.

According to another article I came upon in Environmental Science & Technology online, scientists at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute tested products (soaps, lotions) containing triclosan and products without it. They found that those products containing triclosan could help increase a person’s exposure to levels above the EPA’s safe limit for chloroform (or trihalomethanes, the class of chemicals chloroform belongs to) in drinking water.

OK, so what does this all mean. We don’t know exactly how the study was performed, and my scientist hubby recommends finding that out before conclusions can be formed. What were the scientific controls? How many products were studied? Was the testing environment similar to that of a real consumer? How much chlorine was in the water that was used to perform the test?

But he is still against the use of antibacterials because of the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bugs (see my previous post here). That is enough reason for me. But if you also consider that we really don’t need to be adding any other chemicals to the environment AND that we have a responsibility to be conscious consumers, you have a very good reason to avoid using triclosan altogether.

The people over at Beyond Pesticides have put together a list of products they’ve found that use triclosan. It’s apparent that this stuff isn’t just in antibacterial soaps, but in many common household items. We haven’t personally looked at the ingredients of each of these items listed, so can’t vouch for the accuracy of the list…however, it reinforces our habit of looking at labels before we buy something.

The following products all contain triclosan. Caveat emptor!

Soaps:
Dial® Liquid Soap
Softsoap® Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
Tea Tree Therapy™ Liquid Soap
Provon® Soap
Clearasil® Daily Face Wash
Dermatologica® Skin Purifying Wipes
Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser
DermaKleen™ Antibacterial Lotion Soap
Naturade Aloe Vera 80® Antibacterial Soap
CVS Antibacterial Soap
pHisoderm Antibacterial Skin Cleanser

Dental Care:
Colgate Total®; Breeze™ Triclosan Mouthwash
Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush
Janina Diamond Whitening Toothpaste

Cosmetics:
Supre® Café Bronzer™
TotalSkinCare Makeup Kit
Garden Botanika® Powder Foundation
Mavala Lip Base
Jason Natural Cosmetics
Blemish Cover Stick
Movate® Skin Litening Cream HQ
Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb
Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss
Dazzle

Deodorant:
Old Spice High Endurance Stick Deodorant
Right Guard Sport Deodorant
Queen Helene® Tea Trea Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant
Nature De France Le Stick Natural Stick Deodorant
DeCleor Deodorant Stick
Epoch® Deodorant with Citrisomes
X Air Maximum Strength Deodorant

Other Personal Care Products:
Gillette® Complete Skin Care MultiGel Aerosol Shave Gel
Murad Acne Complex® Kit®
Diabet-x™ Cream
T.Taio™ sponges and wipes
Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel

First Aid:
SyDERMA® Skin Protectant plus First Aid Antiseptic
Solarcaine®
First Aid Medicated Spray;
Nexcare™ First Aid
Skin Crack Care
First Aid/Burn Cream
HealWell® Night Splint
11-1X1: Universal Cervical Collar with Microban

Clothes:
Teva® Sandals
Merrell Shoes
Sabatier Chef’s Apron
Dickies Socks
Fruit of the Loom Socks
Biofresh® Socks

Childrens Toys:
Playskool® :
Stack ‘n Scoop Whale
Rockin’ Radio
Hourglass
Sounds Around Driver
Roll ‘n’ Rattle Ball
Animal Sounds Phone
Busy Beads Pal
Pop ‘n’ Spin Top
Lights ‘n’ Surprise Laptop

— Beyond Pesticides

Helpful Articles:
FDA: No Advantage to Antibacterial Soap
Howstuffworks: “Is Antibacterial Soap Any Better?”
PhysOrg: “Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial Soap But Without The Risk.”
EST&C: Household Antibacterial Products Generate Chloroform

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Responses

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