Triclosan in TreeHugger: "There's a frog disruptor in my soap" revisited

triclosan frog photo

See the amazing list of products containing Triclosan at the bottom of this post!

Margaret recently reported that the FDA admits antibacterial soap doesn't stop germs. In fact, the FDA is talking about more than just soap, and is looking at the use of antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan in all kinds of products.

Long-time TreeHugger readers will rejoice at this news; it is an issue we have been covering since 2006, when TreeHugger Emeritus and chemist John Laumer first introduced us to the problem, way back when the pictures were small and the posts were short. Reviewing the series of posts starting seven years ago is seriously depressing; everything the FDA is finally asking now has been on the table for years. And they haven't even banned the stuff yet, they are just asking the companies to justify its use. This is appalling.

Triclosan molecule

2006: There's A Frog Disruptor In My Soap

Triclosan, widely used in soaps and toothpastes for its ability to kill bacteria, has been found to hasten the transformation of tadpoles into adult frogs..... The concern is not just with aquatic life, due to triclosan’s structural similarity to thyroid hormones, which orchestrate growth and development in wildlife and humans.So, why is a powerful bactericide included in a large number of personal care and cleaning products? Did some focus group indicate a nation-wide demand to get this in our mouths and on our skin?

More: There's A Frog Disruptor In My Soap


2007: "Frog Disruptor In My Soap", Revisited

In 2007, Laumer was at it again, quoting a study that determined that not only was Triclosan useless, it was in fact dangerous.

The team also concluded that these antibacterial soaps could actually pose a health risk, because they may reduce the effectiveness of some common antibiotics, such as amoxicillin. That's because -- unlike [stronger] antibacterial soaps used in hospitals and other clinical settings -- the antibacterial soaps sold to the public don't contain high enough concentrations of triclosan to kill bacteria such as E. coli.

More: "Frog Disruptor In My Soap", Revisited

totalTotal toothpaste/Promo image

2007: Antibacterial Cleaners Do More Harm Than Good

Our list of stuff (TOOTHPASTE!) full of possible gender-bender antibacterial chemicals, some of which people actually put in their mouths.

"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."

More: Antibacterial Cleaners Do More Harm Than Good

world without menBest book cover ever./Public Domain

2008: The Incredible Shrinking Man: How Pollution is Destroying Your Genitals

A look at the effects of all the possible gender-benders, and how they are causing reductions in sperm counts and penis size.

So girls, (since there will be so few men around) the next time the FDA tells you that BPA is harmless, or that Phthalates are innocuous, or that Triclosan belongs in your toothpaste, tell them to just look around and count the boys.

More: The Incredible Shrinking Man: How Pollution is Destroying Your Genitals

clearasilmmm, just what my teenage daughter needs to rub into her face, sex hormones./Promo image

2009: Why Is There Still a Frog Disruptor In My Toothpaste?

This post included an extraordinary list of products that have Triclosan in them.

Be on the lookout for triclosan on the ingredient lists of soaps, facial cleansers, exfoliants, acne medicines, toothpaste, cosmetics, deodorant and other personal care products. When looking for triclosan in plastics or fabrics, watch out for products that are marketed as containing Microban or Biofresh.

"Given the mounting scientific evidence that triclosan has the potential to harm endocrine function in animals, there should be concern that similar results could be occurring in human populations as well," [Reproductive endocrinologist] Hamlin says.

More: Why Is There Still a Frog Disruptor In My Toothpaste?

2009: Canadian Medical Association Calls for Ban on Triclosan

The stuff sticks around.

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.

More: Canadian Medical Association Calls for Ban on Triclosan

triclosan products

2010: FDA Finally Looking At Endocrine Disruptor Triclosan

Well, it's about frigging time. Except that the FDA waffles.

Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don't always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

In light of these studies, FDA is engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient. FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time.

More: FDA Finally Looking At Endocrine Disruptor Triclosan

triclosan frog photo

2010: EPA Opens Petition to Ban Endocrine Disruptor Triclosan

The Environmental Protection Agency piles on, and is never heard from again.

Almost five years ago John claimed There's A Frog Disruptor In My Soap, and ever since we have been wondering why a chemical that does more harm than good is in our deodorants, hand cleaners and even our toothpaste. The FDA is studying it and now the EPA is looking closely as well. The EPA gets a look-in on what one would think was FDA turf because of those tadpoles; Triclosan turns them into John's frogs faster.

More: EPA Opens Petition to Ban Endocrine Disruptor Triclosan

war pm womenHuman Events/Screen capture

2011: First They Came For Your Lightbulbs. Now The Government Wants Your Soap, According to the Right

Now it gets hilarious as the right wing anti-government regulation types join the party.

Guess what? Triclosan is right up there now with compact fluorescent bulbs and low flush toilets as a cause celebré for the crazy right wing, and the campaign to get rid of it is part of the Environmentalists' War on Women.

Yes, the war on women. In the most ludicrous article I read in 2011, yes, they write this in 2011:
Maybe environmentalists thought women would be too busy to notice the growing regulatory assault on them. They were wrong. Nothing gets women's attention more quickly than dirty dishes, clogged toilets, grimy clothes, toxic materials, and budget-busting energy prices. It's time the fairer sex took environmental Neanderthals head-on.

It gets worse, really. "If we willingly allow the government to control what we can or cannot put in our soap dish, what is next?" More: First They Came For Your Lightbulbs. Now The Government Wants Your Soap, According to the Right

2013: Why you should wash your hands of all antibacterial soaps

Katherine, part of a new generation of TreeHugger contributors, looks at the issue again. She goes right back to first principles:

As unexciting as it is, plain old bar soap is the way to go. Regular soap works by loosening dirt, oil, and microbes so they can be rinsed away. Effective hand washing requires vigorous scrubbing of all surfaces and should last at least 20 seconds. (Try singing “Happy Birthday” twice through while scrubbing.) A bar of soap requires little to no packaging, and the greenest option is one with a vegetable glycerine base, free from chemical fragrance.

More: Why you should wash your hands of all antibacterial soaps

2013: FDA admits antibacterial soap doesn't stop germs

And here we are, in 2013, and the FDA is finally admitting:

In fact, there currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water, says Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA.

Not only are they late, but they are still gutless, not banning the stuff, just proposing "new rules that would require manufactures to provide more data about the effectiveness of antibacterial ingredients. The proposal will be open to public comment before being put into effect."

More: FDA admits antibacterial soap doesn't stop germs

So it is up to you, to take it into your own hands, find out which products have Triclosan in them and stop using them. Here is a list from Beyond Pesticides, that is absolutely scary, the stuff is in everything from j-cloths to underwear to escalator handrails! They qualify the list:

Due to public pressure, many major manufacturers have quietly begun reformulating their products without triclosan. Product formulations may change without notice. Below is a small sampling of products formulated with, or used to be formulated with triclosan and is not to be considered a comprehensive list. Remember to always refer to product labels to determine whether triclosan is contained in your product. Some retail outlets may still carry older formulations. Look out for labels that state: "antimicrobial protection." Some antibacterial soaps may use triclosan's cousin, triclocarban, in place of triclosan.

Soap: Dial® Liquid handsoap and bodywash; Tea Tree Therapy™ Liquid Soap; Clearasil® Daily Face Wash; Dermalogica® Skin Purifying Wipes; DermaKleen™ Antibacterial Lotion Soap; CVS Antibacterial Soap, Ajax Antibacterial Dishsoap, Ultra Concentrated Dawn Antibacterial Dishsoap, Kimcare Antibacterial Clear Soap, Bath and Body Works Antibacterial Hand Soaps, Gels and Foaming Sanitizers.

Dental Care: Colgate Total®; Breeze™ Daily Mouthwash; Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush

Cosmetics: Garden Botanika® Powder Foundation; Mavala Lip Base; Movate® Skin Litening Cream HQ; Paul Mitchell Detangler Comb, Revlon ColorStay LipSHINE Lipcolor Plus Gloss, Babor Volume Mascara, Phytomer Perfect Visage Gentle Cleansing Milk, Phytomer Hydracontinue Instant Moisture Cream, Bath and Body Works Antibacterial Moisturizing Lotions.

Deodorant: Arm and Hammer® Essentials Natural Deodorant; Queen Helene® Tea Trea Oil Deodorant and Aloe Deodorant; DeCleor Deodorant Stick; Epoch® Deodorant with Citrisomes.

First Aid: SyDERMA® Skin Protectant plus First Aid Antiseptic; Healwell Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint; Solarcaine® First Aid Medicated Spray; Nexcare™ First Aid, Skin Crack Care; : Universal Cervical Collar with Microban.

Kitchenware: Farberware® Microban Cutting Boards; Franklin Machine Products FMP Ice Cream Scoop SZ 20 Microban; Hobart Semi-Automatic Slicer; Chix® Food Service Wipes with Microban; Compact Web Foot® Wet Mop Heads.

Other Personal Care Products: Murad Acne Complex® Kit, ®; Diabet-x™ Cream; Scunci Microban Comb, Sportslick Pocket Slick.

Clothes: Biofresh® socks, undergarments, tops and bottoms.

Office and School Products: Ticonderoga® Pencils with Microban Protection, Avery® Touchgaurd View Binders, C-line® products, Clauss® cutting instruments, Costco® products, Sharp® printing calculators. Westcott® scissors

Other: Bionare® Cool Mist Humidifier; Deciguard AB® Antimicrobial Ear Plugs; Bauer® Re-Akt hockey helmet and 7500 hockey helment; Miller Paint Acro Pure Interior Paint; Holmes Foot Buddy™ HMH120U Antimicrobial Foot Buddy Foot Warmer, Blue Mountain Wall Coverings, California Paints®, Davis Paint® Perfection, Hirschfield’s Paint®,O’Leary Paint®, EHC AMRail Escalator Handrails, Dupont™ Air Filters, Winix Dehumidifiers, J Cloth® towels, select Quickie cleaning products, Kimberly Clark® WYPALL X80 Towels, Canopy® kitchen towels, ALUF Plastics®, BioEars earplugs, Petmate® LeBistro feeders and waterers, Infantino cart covers and baby carriers, Oreck XL®, Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum™, NuTone® Central Vacuum systems, Rival® Seal-A-Meal® Vacuum Food Sealer, CleenFreek SportsHygiene Yoga Mat, Resilite Sports Products, Rubbermaid® Coolers, Stufitts sports gear, Venture Products® fitness mats, Custom Building Products, DAP®Kwik Seal Plus®, Laticrete, Niasa Biquichamp® mortar grout and sealant, ProAdvanced Products.

Triclosan in TreeHugger: "There's a frog disruptor in my soap" revisited
The FDA is finally looking at antibacterial soaps; here is some background from the archives of TreeHugger

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