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Germ Free May Not Be Green – Take Triclosan

Everyone wants a clean home for themselves and their families.  Dust-free, clutter-free, germ-free – it’s the healthier, greener thing to do, right?  Maybe not.  When it comes to antibacterial and antimicrobial additives we may be talking about cross-purposes.

Antibacterial soaps and other products commonly contain triclosan as the germ-fighting ingredient.  According to research published on Environmental Science & Technology’s research website, triclosan has been proven to produce significant quantities of chloroform when mixed with chlorinated water.  Chloroform is a probable carcinogen in humans according to the EPA. 

Since children wash their hands in a sink, under a spiggot, they can very easily be mixing triclosan and chlorinated water. But it’s not just antibacterial soaps. It’s also toothpaste, lotions, sun block, deodorants and dishwashing fluid. Furthermore, skin is the largest organ on the body and skin is where about 3/4 of all chemical exposures occur.  Chemicals, even vapors, can be absorbed through the skin.  The more tender the skin, the more readily absorption can occur.

The potential hazards may also be introduced with antibacterial dish detergents as well.  Since chloroform is highly volatile, exposure could occur through vapor ingestion OR dermal ingestion.  And what residue is left on the dish that might leach into our dinner?

Further, many experts maintain that antibacterials and antimicrobials do more harm than good because they encourage super-resistant strains of germs.  And when antimicrobials enter the ground soil  and ground water (as they inevitably do through our sewer system) important soil microbes and other simple forms of life may be damaged as well.  So triclosan may pose an environmental as well as a health threat.

This is a somewhat controversial topic but it is interesting that the industry stakeholders put forth research that refutes the "suburban myth" yet the medical community believes that more research is necessary.  The American Medical Association has wanted the FDA to monitor and possibly regulate antimicrobials such as triclosan for nearly a decade now.  I don’t want to be an alarmist, but it seems like triclosan or other antibacterial agents may be another example of a modern invention that is not enhancing or enriching our lives.  Until the jury is back, I think I’ll stick to the "old fashioned" soaps and dish cleaning products in my home.

When you are doing your dishes and weekly house cleaning, or when you are asking little Bobby to wash up for dinner, please remember this blog and consider the potential risks to your family’s health and the environment.  Maid Brigade introduced green house cleaning to help protect your family, but we also want to help consumers become aware of other potential health hazards that may be present in your home, because our house cleaning service takes the attitude that "it’s about the customer, every time".
 

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