What do credit cards, hockey helmets, kids' toys, trashcans, toothpaste, deodorants, and shaving creams have in common? They all could contain triclosan, which for a long time has been touted as an effective antimicrobial agent for killing bacteria.
Then a few years ago, it was discovered that triclosan could contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs — super bugs — and the Food and Drug Administration banned its use in hospital cleaning agents and consumer soaps.
Unfortunately, the FDA can't regulate paints, clothes, sporting equipment, or furniture.
That's why you still can find triclosan in those products, as well as anything else that advertises itself as having “antimicrobial properties.”
And it continues to cause problems, both for the biosphere and for you.
Most recently, research published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy revealed how triclosan can help bacteria become more resistant to antibiotic treatments for diseases such as urinary tract infections.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that repeated triclosan exposure makes bacteria able to survive “normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics,” including Cipro.
Previous research has found that triclosan alters hormone regulation and could be harmful to your immune system.
Be on your guard for clothing, house paints, toys, etc. that claim to control or kill germs and bacteria. There's a good chance they contain triclosan. Manufacturers are not required to put that information in their labeling.
Washing your hands thoroughly with plain soap and water is just as effective at getting rid of unwanted bacteria as so-called antimicrobials.