Friday, April 30, 2010

Triclosan and Ubiquitous Antibiotics freely used in Personal Care Products

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release about triclosan - an ubiquitous antibiotic found in tons of personal care products, including deodorant, toothpaste, hand and facial cleansers, mouthwash, and other household cleaners.

It can't be good for our environment to be flushing lots of antibiotics down the drain. In the press release, the FDA stated that:

For some consumer products, there is clear evidence that triclosan provides a benefit. For other consumer products, FDA has not received evidence that the triclosan provides an extra benefit to health. At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

After reading the press release, I am sure you are curious what kinds of research have been done on the safety of triclosan, as well as the utility of antibiotics in common household products. Go to the primary literature sources so you can see for yourself what scientists have been researching, and if their research is published in reputable peer-reviewed journals, and first investigate the safety aspects of triclosan.

It isn't hard to find a number of papers that implicated triclosan as problematic in animal studies. One paper (The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anuran development) found that when bullfrog tadpoles were exposed the levels of triclosan that are typically found in our environment, the tadpoles did not develop normally.

Another paper (Short-term in vivo exposure to the water contaminant triclosan: Evidence for disruption of thyroxine) studying rats found that very low levels of triclosan disrupted thyroid hormone regulation. This has long been a concern about triclosan, as the structure of triclosan is very similar to that of thyroid hormones.

If there is a serious positive influence on our daily lives through the use of triclosan containing products, to some it may be worth the environmental cost. However, this arguement quickly falls apart when looking for evidence to support the claim that triclosan makes our lives better.

In a comprehensive review of the scientific literature published in 2007 (Consumer antibacterial soaps: effective or just risky?). Quoting from their abstract, it says it all:

Soaps containing triclosan within the range of concentrations commonly used in the community setting (0.1%-0.45% wt/vol) were no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms and reducing bacterial levels on the hands.

So, if you want to avoid contaminating the environment without sacrificing personal hygiene, please check the labels of any household products before you purchase them to see if they contain triclosan (which also is marketed as Microban, Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, or Biofresh ref).

Not only is this product unnecessary in most circumstances, but it looks like it could have a very negative impact in our environment. So, if it's not really helping you, you might as well find an alternative product that doesn't contain triclosan.

No comments:

Post a Comment