August 6, 2013

Are Antibacterial Products Messing With Your Body? ~ Beth Greer

Three out of four Americans have Triclosan in their blood.

When my daughter was about seven years old, she invited a girlfriend to our home for a sleepover. As they were getting ready for bed, I overheard the following conversation from the bathroom:

Friend: “What kind of toothpaste is that? It looks weird.”

My daughter: “It’s an all-natural one. And what are you using? Colgate? Don’t you know that can kill you?”

I was horrified. Had I been a bit too harsh in my consciousness-raising and created an eco-monster?

I sat them both down and explained that the toothpaste her friend was using wouldn’t kill her, or anybody, but that it was better to choose a natural one, without a lot of added chemicals.

Fast forward eight years to present day. Colgate now uses a chemical (which is actually a pesticide) called triclosan in its Colgate Total toothpaste. A really effective way to absorb chemicals is through the mouth. For example, when a drug like nitroglycerine is administered for a heart condition it is given under the tongue for fast absorption. So are natural homeopathic remedies. So what happens when you brush with toothpaste containing triclosan?

You get a dose of the chemical.

There is a warning label on the box of Colgate Total that says “Keep out of reach of children under the age of 6. If more than used for brushing is swallowed, contact the poison control center or your physician.” Colgate is aware that Triclosan shouldn’t be ingested in large amounts. But what about small amounts ingested twice a day over years? And what about children under 6, whose parents may not have read the warning label? No one is certain.

One thing is for sure. Sarah Janssen, M.D., Ph.D, senior scientist in the health and environment program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) in San Francisco says,

“Three out of four Americans have Triclosan in their blood. And when you brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing the chemical, your levels go way up.”

According to one study (Allymr, 2009), volunteers brushing with Tricolsan toothpaste for 14 days had a dramatic rise in blood levels—450 times normal.

“Chemicals in the U.S. are under-studied and under-regulated. As a result, people are being exposed to many chemicals that have not been adequately studied for their health effects,”

said Ted Schettler, M.D., Science Director of CHE (Collaborative on Health and the Environment). He was a guest lecturer at a recent training sponsored by CHE at Commonweal in Bolinas, Calif., which I attended along with a group that included doctors, nurses, government officials, and community activists. We heard lectures from five other scientists and researchers on the impact environmental toxins have on reproductive and endocrine systems and what can happen when these systems are disrupted.

The consensus was that triclosan (also found in deodorant, acne cream and antibacterial soaps) is proven to be an endocrine disruptor in laboratory animals.

And think about this: According to Johns Hopkins University research, about 75 percent of triclosan (found in 75 percent of liquid hand soaps) and its cousin triclocarban (found in 25 percent of bar soaps) is flushed down drains and survives treatment at sewage plants. Most of that ends up in sludge spread on farm fields and enters our food chain! Every year, the study says, an estimated 200 tons of these two compounds are applied to agricultural lands nationwide.

What can you do?

  • Read labels. Look for the word “antibacterial” as a clue that the product contains triclosan or triclocarbon and don’t buy it.
  • Use plain soap and water. Antibacterial soaps and washes are not any better at killing germs and could contribute to the growth of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
  • Choose alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Tell your dentist to read the research and offer Tom’s toothpaste or other, safer choices to their patients.
  • Eat organic food to avoid the possibility of consuming triclosan in your food.

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Asst. Ed.: Linda Jockers/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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