What is Triclosan?
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that has been used in consumer products since the 1990s. In addition to being used in hand soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, and cleaning products, it can also be found in socks, kitchen utensils, trash bags, bath towels, and bed sheets. This additive has become so prevalent in consumer products that studies estimate that 3 in 4 Americans have it accumulated in their bodies.
The amount of triclosan a person would be exposed to by washing their hands once is minimal, however, studies in animals have shown that long-term exposure can lead to weaken muscle contractions and affect hormone balances. The effects on humans are not fully known, and amid growing concern that this antimicrobial agent is possibly harmful to humans and environmental health, the FDA is proposing regulations that require manufacturers to prove that Triclosan has added antibacterial benefits that outweigh possible health risks.
Triclosan has the potential to contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is a growing problem in hospitals and health care facilities. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill bacteria instantly by dissolving the bacteria’s cell membrane. Triclosan-containing hand soaps work by interfering with bacteria’s ability to make food. Because this is a longer process, it gives bacteria time to develop resistance. Bacteria exposed to Triclosan can, for example, develop resistance to common antibiotics that work in the same way, such as amoxicillin.
In 2014, in the state of Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products. Implementation will not occur until January 1, 2017. This makes Minnesota the first state to ban triclocan, however, companies such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have already began to phase out the chemical from their products.
For a listing of Multi-Clean hand soaps and sanitizers, please visit Multi-Clean’s Skin Care Webpage.