Are you still using triclosan to protect your kids from germs? A few months ago we wrote a couple of blogs about the dangers of triclosan, the antibacterial chemical used in soaps, cleansers, toothpastes and a variety of other products. Parents are using these antibacterial products on their kids every day, thinking they’re doing the best thing by trying to keep their kids germ-free. But, triclosan is not the way to do it: studies have pretty much proven it’s toxic. Finally, after decades of delay, the FDA is taking action which will probably lead to a ban on triclosan – but will it be fast enough to protect our children from this dangerous chemical? And, if not, what are our alternatives?
If you’d like to read more about triclosan, check out the earlier blogs. The first, Germs or Toxic Chemicals – Do We Really Have to Make that Choice?, is about the studies on triclosan and a lawsuit filed on the FDA’s decades-long delay in rendering a final ruling on its safety. The second, Are Antibacterial Socks, Shoes and Underwear Safe for Your Kids?, revealed the fact that this dangerous chemical is even used in socks, shoes, underwear and other clothing articles that our kids may be wearing right now!
Some public officials are up in arms about nothing being done about triclosan. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, for example, has been very active in trying to get triclosan off the shelves. His office even contacted more than a dozen companies to get them to voluntarily remove it from their products. A few said they will get rid of the chemical in the near future, but most refused, saying that they are waiting for the FDA review.
Rep. Markey sent a letter to the FDA last week asking for an update. It looks like the FDA is finally going to take action but, unfortunately, that action will probably consist of simply requesting additional information, said FDA spokesperson Karen Riley.
How long will it take for a final ruling? Who knows? It’s taken decades so far.
Eventually, though, triclosan will be banned. There’s no way around it. The evidence against it is too strong.
But as parents, we really need to do something to protect our families now. We can’t wait while industry or government agencies drag their feet. So much damage has been created by chemicals we had assumed were safe; it’s now time to recognize that the only really safe way to go is to assume chemicals guilty until proven innocent.
With that premise as a basis for decision-making, we can be assured we are doing the best to protect ourselves and our children from future disaster.
In the meantime, here is some very good news: You can safely get rid of all the triclosan-containing products in your house without worrying about your kids coming into contact with too many germs: the FDA concluded and announced that triclosan doesn’t get rid of any more germs than good, old-fashioned soap and water!
How do you know if a product contains triclosan? If the label says “antibacterial,” “antimicrobial” or “odor-free,” chances are it contains triclosan. Check the ingredients list and, if it still isn’t clear to you, call the manufacturer. Also, you should know that triclosan is sometimes called microban or irgasan. So, watch for those, too.
Triclosan is actually used in about 140 personal care and household products. For a handy guide on the types of products that might contain triclosan, check out the Environmental Working Group’s home map. It’s easy – just mousing over the house shows you exactly where to look!