what products are triclosan used in?
Ironically, with Triclosan’s widespread use in antibacterial soaps and related products, the only area in which it has shown to be effective is in the fight against gingivitis. The chemical is currently being used in these products:
- Colgate Total®; Breeze™ Triclosan Mouthwash
- Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush
- Janina Diamond Whitening Toothpaste
If you are using the products, then we recommend that you consider using other toothpastes that do not have this ingredient in place. Depending on the company creating the product, Triclosan can also be branded as Microban® Additive B, Irgasan® (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh®, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum. Some soaps will use triclocarban in place of triclosan.
recommended toothpastes without triclosan
We have selected some of the top toothpastes without Triclosan below.
While long-term research in humans is lacking, several studies of the effects of triclosan in mice and rats found adverse health effects at high concentrations, including reduced fertility and increased cancer risk. But it’s difficult to say if these results would translate into humans, especially because we’ve been exposed to triclosan in various products for decades. Recent headlines with phrases like “cancer-causing chemical” or “cancer-linked ingredient” are overhyped and fail to account for this.
And while any link with cancer probably sounds scary, it’s important to keep in mind that the compound is in the toothpaste for a reason: It helps fight gingivitis, a common disease that causes inflammation and bleeding of the gums.
Do the benefits that triclosan provides in Colgate Total toothpaste outweigh the risks? Or should you throw it in the trash and switch to Crest, which is advertised as 100% triclosan free?
This risk-benefit analysis poses very personal questions, and we can’t say for sure if you should switch, but here’s what we do know about triclosan.
What is triclosan?
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent, meaning that it helps to “slow or stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It first started to appear in antibacterial hand soap products in the 1970s.
Since then, triclosan has been added to a ton of things — “it has been used in consumer products such as detergents, soaps, skin cleansers, deodorants, lotions, creams, toothpastes, and dishwashing liquids,” according to a CDC fact sheet. Many of those products labeled with “antibacterial” potentially contain triclosan or a related compound.
What are the risks?
The truth is, we don’t fully know what the risks of triclosan use are. “The human health effects from exposure to low environmental levels of triclosan are unknown … More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to triclosan,” according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, has never issued a comprehensive ruling on triclosan’s effectiveness and safety — even though it originally said it would look into triclosan in 1974. Now, the FDA says it will issue a ruling on triclosan in 2016.
But because of consumer concerns about safety and environmental impacts, triclosan has been phased out of many soap products because of mounting evidence that these products don’t provide health benefits above regular soap and water.
Tests in animals have raised some red flags. For example, one study found that triclosan promoted breast cancer in cells in the lab and in mice. Another study found that exposure to triclosan during fetal development caused neurological damage in some rats.
But it is important to recognize that chemicals can affect animals differently from humans, and animal testing can involve sky-high doses of the chemical in question. However, these kinds of findings in animals mean further testing is warranted before the product is approved for humans.
Direct affects of the chemical on your body are not the only concerns about the additive. In the mid-2000s, environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, started to raise concerns that the inclusion of triclosan in soaps might be contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can cause dangerous infections that are hard to treat. Because soaps get washed down the drain and eventually end up in water systems, the group also found that triclosan could disrupt the algae and wildlife found in water ecosystems. For example, Canadian scientists found that exposure to triclosan caused developmental issues in bullfrogs.
The Environmental Protection Agency website says that triclosan ” potentially pos[es] a concern for aquatic organisms.” The agency plans to re-evaluate triclosan, but it remains a registered pesticide.
What are the benefits?
According to Colgate’s website: “Reviews by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Dental Association, and government agencies around the world confirm triclosan’s safe use in toothpaste and recognize that Colgate Total provides an important health benefit.”
The website also says the “safety and effectiveness” of the product is supported by more than 80 scientific studies, involving 19,000 people.
Last year, an independent review of the existing research on triclosan in toothpaste concluded that the chemical “reduced plaque, gingival inflammation, and gingival bleeding” but that those reductions “may or may not be clinically important.” Triclosan-containing toothpaste was also associated with a “small reduction” in cavities.
“There do not appear to be any serious safety concerns regarding the use of triclosan … toothpastes in studies up to three years in duration,” the reviewers concluded.
Colgate is quick to point out that real-world evidence seems to echo these results.
“In the nearly 18 years that Colgate Total has been on the market in the U.S., there has been no signal of a safety issue from adverse-event reports,” Thomas DiPiazza, a Colgate spokesman, told Bloomberg.
Colgate did not return our request for comment. (We will update this post if we hear back.)
What’s the bottom line?
So, should you throw away your tube of Colgate Total? Basically, that’s up to you.
If the results of these animal trials scare you, or if you are worried about triclosan seeping into the environment, and you don’t have gingivitis, you might want to switch toothpastes. But, the current FDA stance is that “triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans” and that there is not “sufficient safety evidence” to recommend that consumers stop using products containing triclosan.
Once again it’s important to reiterate that often in studies, animals are given very high doses of a chemical relative to the actual levels that humans would consume. So unless you plan on eating a whole tube of Colgate Total (not recommended for other reasons), you will probably be fine. And also, before you switch to a “natural” toothpaste, you might want to know that Tom’s of Maine happens to be a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Last updated on: August 13, 2014 9:03 AM
One day in 1996, boys from a village in northern Gabon brought home a chimpanzee they found dead in the forest. The villagers butchered it for food.
That act set off an Ebola outbreak that killed 21 people, according to the World Health Organization.
Years later, on a reporting trip in Gabon, author David Quammen met two men from the village who were there during the outbreak.
At the time Ebola was ravaging their village and their families, they noticed something strange. In the forest nearby, 13 gorillas lay dead.
Thirteen dead gorillas, 21 dead humans. Plus the chimpanzee the boys found in the forest.
All victims of Ebola.
‘Wave of death’
For the western lowland gorilla, the toll of Ebola has been devastating.
“There has been an epidemic wave of death passing through gorilla populations across central Africa,” Quammen said, “a wave of Ebola killing them as well as occasionally killing humans.”
“The combination of bushmeat hunting and disease was really slamming western gorillas,” he said.
Walsh and his colleagues estimated that Ebola would wipe out 45 percent of the entire population in just one generation.
For Quammen, the villagers’ story of the 13 dead gorillas stuck with him. It demonstrated “the connectedness between other species and humans when it comes to these new, emerging viruses,” he said.
Quammen went on to author Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. In the book, he describes the growing pace at which diseases are spilling over from animals to people.
“It’s not a new thing. It’s been around for a long time,” Quammen said. Bubonic plague jumped from rodents to humans through infected fleas and killed as much as 60 percent of Europe in the 14th century.
And Ebola is not the first species to spill over from apes.
The most lethal species of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, came from gorillas, according to research Walsh co-authored.
Into the woods
But the pace of spillover seems to be increasing, Quammen said.
“Something seems to be different because we’ve seen a lot of these new diseases, especially viral diseases, emerging over the last five or six decades. And that, of course, raises the question of, why?”
One answer, Quammen said, is the growing human population that is encroaching deeper and deeper into new habitats.
“There are now 7 billion of us on the planet. We’re going into these diverse ecosystems. We’re cutting down trees, we’re building mines and roads.”
And as humans encounter the animals living in these ecosystems, he added, “We’re giving the viruses those animals carry the opportunity to jump to a new host.”
William Karesh, an infectious disease expert at EcoHealth Alliance, said, “It’s becoming very clear that there’s a strong correlation between environmental change of any type and disease emergence.
“Whether it’s deforestation or agricultural growth or reforestation, it’s that change that allows that disease to emerge because it’s disrupting the natural balance,” Karesh said.
Spillover goes in the other direction, too.
Ecotourism has been great for protecting wild-ape habitat, ecologist Walsh said. But “in the places where we’re succeeding the most in protecting them from hunting and habitat loss,” he noted, “we’re killing them with our viruses.”
Human respiratory viruses are the No. 1 killer of chimpanzees and gorillas that are accustomed to the presence of humans. In chimpanzees, half of the deaths are caused by human respiratory viruses.
Walsh advocates vaccinating apes that come in contact with tourists against human diseases such as measles.
He and his colleagues call for better enforcement of the laws against hunting the critically endangered western lowland gorilla, and better protection of their dwindling habitat.
An older show that is still relevant…
Awesome tune with a positive message…