Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Demystifying household chemicals: Triclosan

Triclosan is a common ingredient
in liquid soap
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
"Demystifying household chemicals" is a series that aims to inform people on the types of chemicals found in and around our homes. The series will be featured every Wednesday where a different chemical, and its everyday uses, will be discussed.

Last week, the news was littered with articles about triclosan, a chemical whose side effects have suddenly resurfaced. Though this chemical has been used for 40 years, a new study has found even more disturbing health hazards.

Triclosan is a type of phenol (see article on phenols) and it is used as an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent.  In its natural form, triclosan is a white powder that has a slight aromatic smell.  Because of its antibacterial properties, which are often used in liquid soap, scientists have expressed concern that the overuse of triclosan can result in bacteria strains which are resistant to the chemical.

Though many products contain triclosan and, according to the FDA and the European Union, must list the chemical in the products' ingredients, there are many companies that have their own trademarks.  The following are other names used for the chemical triclosan:
  • Microban
  • UltraFresh
  • Amicor
  • BioFresh
Triclosan has been known to cause a number of health issues, including endocrine disruption (which affects your hormones), cancer and birth defects.  The new study indicates the chemical can also affect your muscles. 

After extensive tests, researchers have determined that even short term exposure can reduce muscle contractions, thereby increasing the potential for heart disease and heart failure.

In 1998, the EPA estimated that over one million pounds of triclosan were produced every year in the United States. In light of the number of products now containing the chemical, production has undoubtedly increased. With that increase is the chemical’s reach. Traces of triclosan have been found in breast milk, waterways, dolphins, fish and human blood.

Though the quantity of triclosan used in everyday products is within acceptable levels, the fact that we use so many different products that contain this chemical is cause for concern. Here are a few examples of where triclosan can be found:

  • Liquid soap
  • Facial cleansers
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpastes
  • Make-up
  • Deodorants
  • Shaving creams and gels
  • First aid medicines (e.g. sprays)
  • Cutting boards
  • Socks
  • Toys
  • Furniture
  • Paints

Take a look at this list of brand name products for more information on goods that contain triclosan.

After looking at the link above, how many of these products are in your home right now? What will you do with them? Let us know!

Protecting your home and your health

Though products containing triclosan are used in hospitals to combat infections, scientists and doctors alike suggest people discontinue using antibacterial products, such as liquid soap, in the home. There is no absolute value added and regular soap and water can be just as effective.

Think about reducing the number of products within your home that contain triclosan, such as furniture, toys and socks.
AllerAir's air purifiers can
help remove harmful chemicals
from your home.
Find alternative products that are better for you and for the environment. There are many organic products, or environmentally-friendly products, that can serve you better by keeping you healthier for longer.

Use air purifiers. The fact that one chemical is found in so many products should be a wake-up call.

We are living in a chemically-laden world. Thousands of chemicals are competing for space inside your home: air fresheners, your stove, cleaning products, personal care products etc...

An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will help remove those chemicals, gases and odors from the air, giving you a better chance at clean, healthy air.

For more information about our air purifiers, contact AllerAir today.

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