Triclosan: Is this Hazardous Toxin in Your Toothpaste?

Do you know about this hazardous toxin lurking in your life? If your answer to this question is no, then you must read what this toxin actually is and how it can destroy all your healthy cells in your body. Triclosan is a “super chemical” meant to fight the spread of germs, but with the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs, the question is whether it really fights the good fight or just creates bigger problems. The answer is pretty straightforward. Triclosan is a major player when it comes to the problem of antibiotic resistance, which is becoming more common and more deadly with each passing year.
Are you wondering what triclosan even is? It’s a potent wide-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent used in many household products today, such as hand soap, toothpaste, toys, bedding and beauty products. It fights against surface bacteria to help eliminate the spread of disease and infectious agents.
This chemical was first brought to market in 1969 by the drug company Novartis for hospital use but was soon spread to the consumer market en masse. The chemical compound, which is an organic polychloro phenoxy phenol, breaks down to a dioxin when used in products after targeting bacteria through fatty acid synthesis.
Recent studies have suggested it has numerous and severe adverse health and environmental risks, especially after the compound degrades to dioxin. There’s now mounting efforts to issue a triclosan ban in the U.S. because of these risks, and many companies are discreetly reformulating their products that contained the dangerous compound.
Dangers of Triclosan
The dangers of triclosan have been studied more and more in recent years, and the evidence is mounting of its negative effects on humans, animals and the environment. The midcentury chemical skirted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, as all chemicals in use prior to the act were able to be grandfathered in, something many activists point to as indicating the ineptitude of many regulations and the agencies that enforce or appoint them.
In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which enacted the TSCA, grandfathered in the already existing 60,000 chemicals that were on the market in the late 1970s. To make matters worse, the EPA only tested several hundred of them and only deemed around five to be semi-regulated. There are over 80,000 chemicals to date that have never been tested by the EPA and are deemed safe to use in products.
There’s no good reason to use products containing triclosan. One of the most common ways it’s likely in your life is through the use of antibacterial soap. But antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water!
Forty-two years of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) research (along with countless independent studies) have produced no evidence that triclosan provides any health benefits as compared to old-fashioned soap. If that’s not reason enough to stop using antibacterial soap and other triclosan-laced products, then read on to learn more about the many possible health problems this chemical compound contributes to.
  1. Hormonal Problems
Numerous studies have shown that triclosan alters testosterone and thyroid serum levels. It also affects estrogen adaptors and synthesis. Since triclosan stores itself in certain cells and has been found to hide in breast milk and blood, it can have long-term hormonal effects that have a potential to be passed along, affecting immune system health, fertility and pregnancy.
The hormonal effects impact the entire endocrine system, from vital organ growth and response to the release of essential chemicals in the body, making this dangerous substance an endocrine disruptor.
  1. Allergies
Triclosan exposure leads to the development of allergies, especially a problem with children and their young, developing immune systems. It changes the bacterial flora on the skin of susceptible, growing children. Hay fever, asthma and seasonal allergy symptoms in children are a large concern with using products that contain triclosan.
A 2013 Norwegian study looked at the effect of triclosan on 10-year-old children. The study found that triclosan concentrations in urine samples were associated with allergic sensitization, especially inhalant and seasonal allergens, rather than food allergens. The study found that triclosan levels measured in urine were associated with elevated levels of immunoglobulin E and rhinitis in the 623 children studied. Studies in the U.S. have yielded similar results.
  1. Cancer
When triclosan degrades, it turns into dioxin. Dioxin is a carcinogen and has been linked to different types of cancer. In fact, triclosan can manifest itself in the body as a producer of uncontrolled cell growth. When combined with chlorinated, toxic tap water, it was found to form chloroform, which is another carcinogen.
One study showed that long-term exposure to triclosan on rats caused liver damage, including cases of liver cancer. The carcinogenic properties of the degraded compound in conjunction with its interaction of reducing positive bacterial flora is highly concerning for cancer growth.
  1. Environmental Hazards
The chemical’s dioxins leak into the water supply and when mixed with UV radiation exposure (sunlight) can have seriously negative environmental impacts. Studies have shown that this dangerous substance is present in nearly 60 percent of U.S. streams and rivers from being washed down our drains on a daily basis. It can damage aquatic animals and plant life, kill algae, and affect and even change hormones and sex of fish.
It has been found in fish, dolphins, marine worms and even earthworms. The fact that scientists have found triclosan in dolphins that swim off the East Coast of the U.S. shows that it’s really getting deeper into the environment and moving through the ocean’s food chain. It’s also been detected in the Great Lakes, increasing water toxicity.
Popular products that contain the chemical include antibacterial hand and body soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, cosmetics including foundations and moisturizers, first aid products, kitchenware, office supplies like pencils and binders, humidifiers, filters, and more. Some popular brand names that use it in some or all of their products include: Colgate, Arm and Hammer, Queen Helene, Garden Botanika, Reach, Tea Tree Therapy, CVS, BioFresh and more.
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