Sunday, December 1, 2013

Decreasing Your Family's Exposure to Triclosan

What is Triclosan?  Triclosan is an antibacterial agent.

Where Triclosan can be found:

1.) Handsoaps
2.) Body Soaps
3.) Antibacterial products, found in most classrooms, workplaces, store shopping cart wipes, and hand sanitizers, like the ones used in children's play lounges.
4.) The inner lining of garden hoses
5.) Other toiletries: mouthwashes and toothpastes like Colgate Total, facial cleansers, shaving gels, toothbrushes and deoderant.
6.) Kitchenware like antibacterial cutting boards or other products with labels like "odor-fighting" or microfiber cloths with microban in them.
7.) Toys
8.) Dishwashing Detergent
9.) Clothing, like shoes and socks, that contain Microban

The health effects of Triclosan:

1.) Early childhood exposure influences immune system development and thus has been associated with an increased level of childhood allergies.
2.) It contributes to the development of antibiotic resistant germs.
3.) Animal studies have shown it to be a hormone disruptor.
How to decrease your exposure to Triclosan:

1.) Talk to your children's daycares and schools about eliminating triclosan from their soaps and antibacterial products.  I often worry about this Triclosan Generation we are creating and the rampant germophobia that has sprouted from the overuse of antibacterials.  It is good to remind ourselves that germs are not all bad and can help develop children's immune systems for the better.
2.) I carry my own triclosan free hand soap (Method Free and Clear or Seventh Generation's Unscented soaps are both free of Triclosan, as are their scented soaps) in a small travel container in my diaper bag or purse.  It is a bit extreme but when I'm pregnant and have to use public bathrooms frequently, I want to ensure I'm not constantly absorbing triclosan into my system and exposing the fetus to it.  It's also an easy way to decrease your children's exposure to triclosan, even if you do get some weird looks.  At home, you can also make your own foaming soap using Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille Soaps (I will be posting the tutorial on Thursday).  They come in several fragrances, scented only with natural essential oils, and they have an unscented Baby option too, or you can use a Triclosan-free children's hand soap like California Baby, (although this product does contain Sodium Benzoate, which some people choose to avoid).  The FDA is reviewing the safety of triclosan currently and has found no evidence that its use cleans hands better than regular soap and water.  A University of Michigan study came to the same conclusion, finding that "soaps with triclosan were no more effective at preventing illness or reducing bacteria on the hands than plain soap."  Kaiser Permanente even removed Triclosan from its 37 hospitals and switched to soap and alcohol based sanitizers instead.
3.) Use a less toxic toothpaste like Tom's of Maine or Jack N Jill for kids (which is a zero toxin product), or make sure the commercial brand toothpaste you use doesn't list triclosan in its active or inactive ingredients.  Find triclosan-free alternatives for other toiletries.  Dr. Bronner's is an all-natural toiletry brand, and less toxic brands like Burt's Bees, Desert Essence, Jason, Method and Seventh Generation are all great alternatives as well.
4.) Use natural or non-toxic toys like the ones made by PlanToys or Haba.
5.) Read the labels on your kitchenware carefully to ensure it is free of antibacterials.
6.) Switch to a more natural dish soap like Seventh Generation.
Further reading:

1.) Johns Hopkins on the association between triclosan and childhood allergies.
2.) The FDA on triclosan.
3.) Slow Death By Rubber Duck dedicates an entire chapter to triclosan
4.) EWG urges a ban on the non-medical use of triclosan
5.) More on the FDA and Triclosan in soaps

Previous Posts on Decreasing Your Exposure to Toxins:
1.) Decreasing Your Family's Exposure to BPA
2.) Decreasing Your Family's Exposure to PFOAs

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  As mentioned above, this Thursday I will be posting a recipe for an easy DIY foaming soap.

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