Coming Clean on Triclosan

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If you're grocery list includes detergents, dishwashing liquids, soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, anti-microbial creams and toothpaste, you should know these everyday products may also include a chemical used for its antibacterial properties -- triclosan.

When triclosan in liquid soaps and other household products comes into contact with water, it interacts with free chlorine in tap water, and degrades under sunlight to produce chloroform. This chloroform is both toxic and carcinogenic following inhalation or skin absorption, particularly while bathing in warm water.

We now know the health effects of triclosan are widespread_ bacterial and antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption, interference with thyroid function, links to cancer...the list goes on. This seemingly innocuous ingredient has caused so much controversy that the UK began phasing it out of consumer products in 2003, on the heels of Sweden, which moved even quicker to eradicate this potent biocide.

In 2009, the CDC found Triclosanpresent in nearly 60 percent of 139 streams sampled across 30 states. (For more, click here.)

Finally, the U.S. is catching up. Environmental groups and health organizations around the country are demanding a stop to non-medical use of triclosan. After all, this powerful antimicrobial/antibacterial pesticide - linked to so many forms of health damage - has proven no more effective than plain soap and water.

What can you do?

• Read labels, and avoid products with triclosan on the label. Click here for a list of some of the most common productsNote: Microban (r) is also an antimicrobial, but the company does not disclose what chemical ingredients it uses).

• Identify the sources of triclosan in your home. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a simple to use map that helps consumers identify household products and furnishings that may contain triclosan. Click here to find out more.

• Choose healthier alternatives at

• Take action by sending an email to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging a Federal ban on triclosan for non-medical use. Click here to find out more.

Effectively passing this ban will help ensure that keeping our children and homes clean isn't dirtying the planet. Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center (r) at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children's health issues, and is a contributor to For more information go to