Canadian Medical Association Calls for Ban on Triclosan


TreeHugger has been all over Bisphenol A this week, but there is another gender bender chemical that we have been talking about since John wrote There’s A Frog Disruptor In My Soap three years ago: Triclosan. It is in all kinds of so-called "antibacterial" products, from Right Guard to Total toothpaste. Two years ago we were quoting Scientific American in Antibacterial Cleaners Do More Harm Than Good"

"What is this stuff doing in households when we have soaps?" asks molecular biologist John Gustafson of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. "These substances really belong in hospitals and clinics, not in the homes of healthy people."

Now the Canadian Medical Association has asked the Federal Government to ban it in consumer products because it may cause bacterial resistance.

Triclosan molecule

Jennifer Yang of the Globe and Mail writes about the issue:

A growing body of research is showing that antibacterial products can cause bacterial resistance, thus decreasing the effectiveness of antibiotics. The most common ingredient in antibacterial products is a chemical compound called triclosan, which was invented more than 35 years ago and used by doctors during surgical scrubs.

But as the chemical creeps into more and more household products, it's also causing bacteria to become more resistant - not just to triclosan, but also other antibiotics such as isoniazid, a drug used to treat and prevent tuberculosis.

The environmental effects are serious as well:

Research has shown that over 95 per cent of products containing triclosan are disposed of through residential drains. Unfortunately, the compound is also extremely stable, so it tends to stick around in the environment.

According to Mike Layton, program manager with advocacy group Environmental Defence, triclosan can react to chlorine in drinking water and form chloroform, which is a carcinogen. And when triclosan reacts with light, it can actually form poisonous dioxins, he says.

She asks Dr. Kapil Khatter, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment about the stuff and whether we need it.

"Really all you need is soap and water and the alcohol rubs that are available," Dr. Khatter said. "There isn't any benefit to going to these other products - there's only potential harm."

But that doesn't stop manufacturers from putting it into many products, including this list from Food and Water Watch, all of which you should avoid:

Neutrogena Deep Clean Body Scrub Bar
Lever 2000 Special Moisture Response Bar Soap, Antibacterial
CVS Antibacterial Hand Soap
Dial Liquid Soap, Antibacterial Bar Soap
Softsoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
Cetaphil Gentle Antibacterial Cleansing Bar
Clearasil Daily Face Wash
Clean & Clear Oil Free Foaming Facial Cleanser
Dawn Complete Antibacterial Dish Liquid
Ajax Antibacterial Dish Liquid
Colgate Total Toothpaste
Right Guard Sport Deodorant
Old Spice Red Zone, High Endurance and Classic Deodorants
Vaseline Intensive Care Antibacterial Hand Lotion

More on Triclosan:
There’s A Frog Disruptor In My Soap
Antibacterial Cleaners Do More Harm Than Good
"Frog Disruptor In My Soap", Revisited
Why Is There Still a Frog Disruptor In My Toothpaste?
Germ Fighters Lead to Hardier Germs

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