Monday, April 20, 2009

Green Tip 4 - Avoid Triclosan

Over the past few years, I've been concerned about the use of antibacterial soap. It's almost impossible to find liquid hand soap that is not antibacterial. When my children were in elementary school, one of the required supplies that parent's had to purchase was antibacterial soap. I wish people would realize that regular soap is just as effective at killing cold and flu germs and much better for humans and the environment. Some experts believe the use of antibacterial soap can lead to super bugs - just as the use of antibiotic medicine has caused resistant bacteria.

In addition to the potential danger to our health, the active ingredient in these soaps, triclosan, is harmful to the environment. This chemical does not just go away. It is washed down our drains and carried into our natural environment where it can kill algae and cause endocrine problems with fish. In addition, a study done at Virginia Tech showed that triclosan, when combined with chlorine (as in drinking water and swimming pools), can produce chloroform and highly chlorinated dioxins, leading to all kinds of problems. In fact, the U.S. EPA classifies it as a probable human carcinogen. In addition to being found in soap, triclosan can be in toothpaste, acne creams, deodorants, lotions, kitchen tiles, children's toys, cutting boards, toothbrush handles, hot tubs, and athletic clothing. This chemical can journey from our homes into the environment where it is reintroduced to us through the food chain, our drinking water, even breast milk.

Americans are so concerned about picking up germs that can easily be killed with regular soap, but don't give a thought to the health or environmental dangers caused by antibacterial soaps containing triclosan. We seem to be so worried about getting the plague but never give a thought to cancer caused by chemicals in the environment.

No comments: