Almost two years ago I wrote about the hazard of a common antibacterial ingredient, Triclosan, found in many hand soaps and some tooth pastes and cosmetic products. (“Is It Safe to be Squeaky Clean?” March 2, 2011) At that time I pointed out the fact that Triclosan is a hormone disruptor, and it is an unnecessary ingredient in hand soaps.
So what is the good news? Many companies are eliminating Triclosan from their products. A few years ago Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive began phasing out Triclosan. GlaxoSmithKline has removed Triclosan from Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpastes, and last month the cosmetics giant, Avon, committed to removing it from all its products. Hurray!
Nevertheless, a reality check is in order. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Triclosan is present in the bodies of 75% of the U.S. population.
Furthermore, the CDC reports that it has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and alter thyroid function. In 2012 the average concentration of Triclosan in U.S. population was 14 ppb, but 5 percent of the population had concentrations of 480 ppb or more. These concentrations are much higher than that of many hormones.
Back to good news: the CDC statement also means that 25% of the population is essential free of contamination by Triclosan. This could be you! Merely being a careful shopper, avoiding purchase of soaps with the word “Triclosan” on the label, could put you in the clean and safe category. Easy to do.