Monday, April 2, 2012

Chemical of Concern: Triclosan

Have you heard of triclosan?

It's a common antibacterial ingredient in lots of products you use, from toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizers and antibacterial plastics, and many other things. In the course of us say, brushing our teeth or washing our hands, triclosan ends up in our wastewater. Only some of it gets taken out during water treatment, so triclosan is being dumped into our rivers, and since it also ends up in the sewage sludge from the water treatment process, triclosan is being spread over land that uses sludge.

Health Canada and Environment Canada have just published a risk management document of triclosan in the Canada Gazette. There is a 60 day comment period for anyone wanting to comment on their review and proposals.

They recommend that triclosan be added the Toxic Substances List in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Triclosan can accumulate in fish tissues (so probably in other living things as well) and it has serious effects on algae, plants, invertebrates, amphibians and fish, like reducing their growth, reproduction and survival. According to the government report, levels of triclosan in our water right now, especially near waste water treatment plants, are high enough to harm aquatic life, if they haven't already.

So far, there isn't enough data to say how triclosan may affect humans.

If you've just learned about triclosan, take a look for it in the products you use! Where did it show up? 

There are many effective brands of toothpaste that don't use triclosan, but I'm not sure if these are sold at non-health food type stores (Does anybody know? I'll have to take a look!). 

Regular (not "antibacterial") soap disinfects just as well as the kinds with triclosan.You can use alcohol-based hand-sanitizers instead of triclosan containing ones.

For more info see these articles and quick overviews!

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