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What is Triclosan?

And Why You Should Avoid It

We're in the midst of cold and flu season and one of the most imporant things you can do to protect yourself from getting sick is washing your hands. But do you pay attention to what you are washing your hands with?

Knowing what ingredients to avoid in your personal care products is an overwhelming task and sometimes it may seem as if the list of unsafe ingredients is way longer than the list of safe ingredients. Triclosan falls under the unsafe list and as you'll soon learn, it is found in much more than your hand wash. Here are the facts:

What is Triclosan?

Triclosan (which can also be listed on labels as "Microban") is an antibacterial ingredient which can be found in cosmetic products, personal care products, and even prescription drugs here in Canada. Triclosan is actually classified as a pesticide—not something you want to be putting on or around your body, right?

Triclosan can be found in products such as hand and face washes, toothpastes, mouthwashes, deodorants, shaving cream and shaving gels. It doesn't stop with body care though, triclosan can also be found in your dish drainer, your shower curtain, rubber gloves, flip flops, and even your cutting boards. Sadly, these lists go on and on.

Why Is Triclosan Harmful?

For starters, it is a skin irritant. It has also been shown to interfere with hormones and is linked to an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses and other diseases. It may also have an effect on learning abilities and it is a suspected carcinogen. Triclosan builds up in our bodies over time.

Triclosan is not only harmful to humans, but it is also harmful to the environment. When a product containing triclosan gets washed down the drain, it converts to dioxins and contaminates waterways which in turn makes its way to wildlife drinking water and where fish, amphibians and algae reside. Dioxins are toxic to marine life.

How Can You Avoid Triclosan?

The best thing you can do is to do your homework to learn what ingredients are in the products you want to purchase. If you aren't sure, ask! Reasearch the product over the internet, contact manufacturer's, or speak with shop owner's. You can also follow these guidelines:

  Only buy personal care and cosmetic products that do not list triclosan or microban in the ingredient list.

  Purchase onlyorganic or natural hand washes, toothpastes, shaving products and alcohol free hand sanitizers. Any product carrying a certified organic seal will not contain triclosan.

  Remember that triclosan can also be found in household items (usually carrying the name "microban"), so always read the packaging before buying to be sure.