The lowdown on triclosan's effects on health and the environment

Jun 25, 2014

Earlier this year, mounting concerns over the potential health effects of triclosan, a common antimicrobial ingredient, prompted Minnesota to ban the germ-killer from consumer soaps statewide starting in 2017. Are these concerns warranted? An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, investigates.

Jyllian Kemsley, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that when it was first patented, triclosan was used as an in health care settings. It was a much more benign option as a surgical scrub than the biocides used at the time. But then, it hit the mass market. Now, companies add the compound to deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, detergents, cutting boards, toys, carpets and many other everyday products. As a result, in one study, triclosan was found in 75 percent of the urine samples from participants. The question is, what does this mean?

The article notes that the answer is not simple. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that the chances triclosan will cause problems for most people are probably minimal. However, those who aren't able to metabolize could end up with higher levels of the compound in their blood. In animal studies, the antimicrobial disrupts the heart, muscles and hormones.

These results don't bode well for the most vulnerable among us: fetuses and breastfeeding babies. Triclosan's potential to contribute to antibiotic resistance is also a cause for concern. It's not even clear if the substance reduces infections. All of these considerations and more have led the Food and Drug Administration to propose regulations that would require manufacturers to show a clinical benefit to adding the controversial compound to products.

Explore further: Minnesota bans anti-bacterial chemical triclosan in soaps

More information: "Triclosan Under the Microscope" - cen.acs.org/articles/92/i25/Tr… nder-Microscope.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Heat-conducting plastic developed

15 hours ago

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional ...

Electronic switches on the molecular scale

21 hours ago

A molecular electronic switch is a junction created from individual molecules that can alternate between two or more stable states, making the switch act as a conductor or an insulator. These switches show ...

Mimicking photosynthesis with man-made leaves

21 hours ago

Scientists have long been trying to emulate the way in which plants harvest energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Plants are able to absorb photons from even weak sunlight using light antennae made ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.