Once you've read the indictment against triclosan, it's easy to decide you don't want to use the substance. Harder, if you use liquid soap -- or any number of other personal care products -- is finding a product that doesn't use include triclosan for its supposed antibacterial qualities.
The groups Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides have a solution. In a recent report, What's Lurking in Your Soap?, the groups identified both companies that use triclosan and -- usefully -- those that do not.
First a recap. Triclosan is advertised for its antibacterial properties, and many people think an antibacterial soap will clean their hands better than a regular soap. Not so. A vigorous scrub and rinse with warm water -- say the alphabet twice and you're sure to have cleansed any unsavory bug -- is just as good. (A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 11 to one, concluding as such.) Meanwhile, the widespread use of antibacterial products like triclosan is breeding resistant bacteria. (The American Medical Association raised concerns about widespread use of antibacterial products for just this reason.) And it can mix with other chemicals in the waste stream to create toxic (it can kill some aquatic life at the bottom of the food chain, and at the end of your discharge pipe) and gender-bending chemicals.
The Environmental Protection Agency registers triclosan as a pesticide, but legal loopholes allow it to be used in many consumer products without regulation by either the EPA or the FDA. (Japan and Canada restrict its use in cosmetics, and several European nations advise their citizens not to use antibacterial products.)
A recent petition filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch (with support from dozens of other groups, including the Sierra Club, the American Bird Conservancy and the Breast Cancer Fund), argues that triclosan should not be approved for use in consumer products.
Avoid triclosan by reading labels. Triclosan comes in many forms and is known by many names, including: Microban, Irgasan (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum. The easiest way to do the right thing is to purchase products that aren't made with Triclosan. Here's the list:
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