The Scary Toxic Chemical You Just Can't Escape

colgate toothpaste with triclosanIt never ceases to amaze me how sluggish the U.S. government-slash-Food & Drug Administration is to crack down on destructive chemicals infiltrating our personal care products. Take the latest troublesome toxin that they're just now turning their attention to: triclosan. You might recognize it as the active, antibacterial ingredient in your run-of-the-mill bath and body shop hand sanitizers, liquid soaps, dishwashing liquids, shaving gels, and even socks, workout clothes, and toys (guh). But it's anything but helpful or useful.

Numerous studies have found that the chemical has led to widespread pollution in people and the environment. It disrupts our endocrine systems (aka our hormones, which affect everything in our bodies from brain function to sexual function and reproductive health, etc.) and also helps to create bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. But the FDA has been trying to "confirm" this since April 2010.

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Back then, the FDA said research raised "valid concerns" about the "possible health effects" of triclosan, which, by the way, has been found in the urine of 75 percent of the population and in the breast milk of 97 percent. Now, over a year later, the FDA is saying animal studies confirm the antiseptic is no good, but "there is not enough evidence to discourage consumers to stay away from products containing triclosan." This despite the fact that leading experts say the chemical causes much more harm than good.

Obviously, there are lobbyists at work here, and tons of BS red tape standing in the way of Americans' well-being, because the chemical still so ubiquitous.

Whenever I see anything that has a trace of triclosan, I drop it back on the shelf like it's a ticking bomb about to go off. But really, that's not a complete exaggeration of what it is. Once, my local CVS happened to be out of my usual flouride-free Tom's of Maine, and I spent 45 minutes trying to find a toothpaste that didn't have sorbitol (a sugar alcohol ... yes, SUGAR is in tons of toothpaste, ughh!), triclosan, or other toxins. It was impossible, and I walked away empty-handed, frustrated, and angry.

We live in a time when tons of docs hand out Z-Pak antibiotics like candy to patients with cold viruses, just so they feel like they came away from their appointment with a "fix." Even though a bacterial infection is rarely the cause of the common cold and taking antibiotics too frequently can significantly lower your resistance to REAL bacterial threats. (Hello, real-life Contagion!) We also have to contend with our meat and dairy supply being tainted with hidden antibiotics and hormones galore. Add toxic triclosan, BPA, phthalates to the mix. It is enough to make any health-conscious person's head explode.

The bottom-line: It shouldn't be this hard to steer clear of toxins in our everyday lives. Chemicals shown to eff with our health should be banned outright, no questions, no tiptoeing around the facts, calling it "possibly valid" data. It's enough already! American consumers deserve better.

Do you try to steer clear of triclosan?

 

Image via Fuzzy Gerdes/Flickr

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