Direct and Indirect Health Effects of Triclosan

by Audrey Lefebvre, R.N.

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical added to most commercial cleaning products that target bacteria. As mentioned here, long-term use of Triclosan may cause a disruption in the endocrine system. The direct and indirect effects of triclosan are important to understand for a healthier and sustainable lifestyle. The concept of “antibacterial” is particularly useful in a critical healthcare setting, but what happens when we over use this chemical in the comfort of our homes and our hormone levels are altered?

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan first made its debut as a surgical scrub in the 1970s. Originally, it was used as an aseptic in healthcare environments. It was soon added to soaps, detergents, shampoos, mouthwash and other consumer products. It has even made its way into newer, “cleaner” trash bags. Health risks and concerns came to bay when triclosan was supplemented in these consumable and cosmetic products within our homes.

It is reasonable to believe that the safe, consumable products people use on a daily basis do not cause a severe infection most of the time: so why do we need harsh antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan? For example, while triclosan might have been used in a hospital setting when treating an open wound, it is considered overkill as a regular face wash for a sound individual.

Unfortunately, the introduction of triclosan in home goods has had a negative impact on our health. In addition, the long-term use of this chemical has bred bacteria resistant to it. The misuse of a chemical originally intended for a healthcare setting is now a danger to our long-term stability.

Direct Effects of Triclosan

Triclosan may be directly responsible for various unwanted and negative long-term effects on our health. Some of the areas affected, side effects, and symptoms are listed below. 

Indirect Effects of Triclosan

The direct effect of triclosan on our health can be severe, but the indirect effects should not be taken lightly, either. Some of the areas affected, side effects, and symptoms are listed below.

Triclosan began as an advancement in medicine to promote health. Unfortunately, this chemical is now doing the opposite! This antibacterial agent is causing direct and indirect effects on our health and the world in which we live. The effects range from the disruption of the endocrine system to posing a risk to the wildlife within aquatic ecosystems. To better understand why triclosan can and should be removed from home cleaning products, take a look at this quote from the FDA’s Consumer Updates page:

At this time, FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water. Consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water.

If there are no additional benefits to triclosan, why impose a risk to the health of millions?


About the author:

Audrey Lefebvre, R.N., specializes in Integrative Medicine, incorporating traditional and holistic care. Audrey has over five years of experience in direct patient care and four years in natural skin care regimens. You can find out more about her work by visiting her Castile Soap website or her blog.

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