Fighting to Get Triclosan and Triclocarban Out of Your Beauty Routine

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Conventional beauty products are rife with dangerous chemicals, but none as widespread as the hormone-disrupting chemicals triclosan and triclocarban. Thanks to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, these synthetic chemicals have been used in some of the most popular personal-care products for decades, in brands such as Colgate, Dial, Lever 2000 and Vaseline. Now studies are finding that these chemicals’ health and environmental concerns outweigh their so-called “benefits,” and it looks like their days are numbered.

In July the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban triclosan and triclocarban from antibacterial products. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Energy and Environment Subcommittee chairman, has also been pushing the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency to ban or restrict the chemicals.

medicine cabinet
What’s lurking in your medicine cabinet? Many personal care products such as toothpaste, soap and lotion contain triclosan and triclocarban, hormone-disrupting chemicals. Photo By Merrick Brown/Courtesy Flickr. 

Studies have shown that triclosan and triclocarban can interfere with hormone regulation and brain and nervous system development, and the FDA has acknowledged that these chemicals are no more effective at preventing disease than soap and water. The chemicals take years to break down and instead store up in our bodies; the Centers for Disease Control published a report in July showing that Americans’ triclosan levels grew by more than 40 percent in a two-year period.

When flushed down the drain, triclosan and triclocarban end up in waterways and treatment plants. In 2009 the EPA found triclocarbon in all 84 sewage sludge samples collected at wastewater treatment plants; 79 of the samples contained triclosan.

Avoid triclosan and triclocarban by checking labels. Stick to plain soap and water or opt for safer, more natural antibacterial products, such as CleanWell’s sanitizing products.