Sunday, June 29, 2014

Triclosan: An Ounce of Prevention?

In the words of Marilyn Manson in Bowling for Columbine:  If you make them afraid, they will consume.  Marketers know that if they can get you really worried about something, you'll spend a small fortune to protect yourself. Germs are the terrorists of the developed world....  Information below is summarized from chapter five of Smith & Lourie's Slow Death by Rubber Duck.

Anti-bacterial soaps, Microban - which is in many many products, lots of cosmetics, Hasbro toys, kitchen tools, countertops, toothbrushes, garbage bags.....  Originally it was used in hospitals for surgical equipment.  Companies realized they could take a product with a small market, water down the concentration, and build it into a saleable brand. 

* Triclosan works no better than products without triclosan.  It's so watered down on each individual product that it's ineffective. A study found that people who use antibacterial products have no reduced risk for infectious disease symptoms.
* You don't have to disinfect everything; just washing hands with regular soap is enough.  If you're worried, avoid touching your face.  The eyes and nose take in more germs than the mouth.  So touching the glass someone drank out of, then rubbing your eye will give you more germs than finishing their drink with a straw.

Prevalence / Persistence
* It's in our groundwater and soils.
Health Concerns
* Wide-scale use can propagate resistant organisms; it's contributing to the rise of superbugs.  So anti-bacterials can actually increase the risk of infection by a serious illness.
* It's in the landfills and can get into our groundwater
* It interfers with thyroid activity, lowering body temperature and depressing the nervous system
* It's an endocrine disruptor
* Nano-silver (another anti-bacterial) kills off beneficial bacteria used in wastewater treatment - it gets into our groundwater too.
* Bacteria are what make soils work.  We need them to grow food.
* It produces chloroform when exposed to chlorinated tap water which causes liver ailments and cancer.
* Mixed with sunlight, it converts to dioxin which causes a whole host of health problems.
* Birth defects and uncontrolled cell growth

* It's banned from supermarkets in the UK.
* It's banned from toothpaste in China.

Also read The Dirt on Clean:  An Unsanitized History  by Katherine Ashenburg and The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu by Dr. Chuck Gerba

Cross-posted from Project Earth Blog, March 6, 2010

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