Triclosan recently made headlines again after more than 200 scientists and health professionals signed a petition calling for even more caution in using this problem chemical.
It’s really a warning shot from health professionals and scientists. It’s not calling for an outright ban, but it’s warning consumers and manufacturers and policy makers that maybe we should pump the brakes a little bit in putting these in so many products since they haven’t completely demonstrated to be safe for long-term use for humans and may not be providing the benefits that the products say that there are.
You might recall that last year, the FDA banned triclosan in soap. Yet it can still be used in a wide range of consumer products, from toothpaste and other personal care items to building materials, kitchenware, clothing and more – and this despite mounting evidence of its negative impact on human and environmental health.
Although triclosan has been a topic of debate since the 1970s, it took a lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2010 to force the FDA to take action.
Laboratory studies have shown that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor capable of interfering with hormones critical for normal development and reproduction. Such hormonal interference has the potential to cause long-term health problems including poor sperm quality and infertility, and damage to the developing brain leading to poor learning and memory. Several studies suggest that triclosan also may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, may exacerbate allergies, and may weaken muscle function.
According to the NRDC, almost all Americans over the age of six carry residues of triclosan – a chemical that’s easily absorbed through the skin and can be found “in human blood, urine and even breast milk.”
Fortunately, when it comes to triclosan and oral care, there’s only one common toothpaste here in the US that contains the chemical: Colgate Total.
And that product – like most other mainstream pastes – includes a lot of other ingredients to steer clear of, as well. Think fluoride. Think sodium lauryl sulfate. Think propylene glycol.
Of course, as we recently noted, you don’t actually need toothpaste at all to remove plaque. But if you choose to use it, there are plenty of natural options available – and not just commercial products but things like sea salt, baking soda, or even just pure water.
The main thing? Brush. And floss. And steer clear of what could harm.