Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals
suspected of causing cancer in humans. Externally, it can cause skin
irritation, but since "….phenols can temporarily deactivate
the sensory nerve endings….contact with [triclosan] often
causes little or no pain. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats,
circulatory collapse, convulsions, coma, and even death."
Triclosan is stored in body fat. "It can
accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys, and lungs, and
can cause paralysis, sterility, suppression of immune function, brain
hemorrhage, decreased fertility and sexual function, heart problems,
and coma." It has not been completely tested and analyzed for all
health and environmental risks.
Triclocarban is another antibacterial agent
similar to triclosan. Like triclosan, it is also a pesticide. It is
widely used in antibacterial soaps and other personal care
products. Not much research has been done on the toxicity of
triclocarban. However, it has been found to adversely affect lab
animals’ ability to reproduce and some of its breakdown
products cause cancer.
Triclocarban does not completely break down in wastewater treatment,
after you wash it down the drain. It has been found in groundwater,
streams and drinking water. There are many unanswered questions about
whether it’s presence in fertilizer and the soil cause it to
get into the food supply and whether it will cause harm.
These two chemicals alone are enough reason to
avoid antibacterial soaps. However, products containing antibacterial
agents generally also contain other harmful ingredients. Some of the
other ingredients found in these products that you should avoid include:
Antibacterial agents are not only in liquid soaps. It’s more
common for liquid soap to contain the antibacterial chemicals, about
75% of them do. However, about 30% of the bar soaps also contain
chemicals like tricolsan or triclocarban. In addition, these chemicals
can also be found in other products, like deodorants, cosmetics,
lotions, creams, toothpastes, mouthwashes, detergents, dish soaps and
- DMDM hydantoin
- Potassium Lauryl sulfate
- Lauramide diethanolamine (DEA)
- Ammonium lauryl sulfate
- Sodium laureth sulfate
- Tetrasodium EDTA
- D&C Colors
- FD&C Colors
It is especially important to avoid using
antibacterial soaps on children. These soaps do not protect
them and help them to stay healthy. In fact, children need to come in
contact with “germs” to help them to develop their
immune system. Overuse of antibacterial agents has been linked to
allergies and asthma.
It's also important to remember that
antibacterial agents do not kill viruses, the microorganisms
responsible for colds and flu.
The best soap to use for hand washing and general
body care is a pure and natural soap, liquid or bar, free of the harsh
and harmful chemicals. Gentle and healthy natural soaps can generally
be found in health food stores (be sure to check the ingredients on the
label) or online from companies that specialize in natural soaps.
Healthy soaps are also recommended in the book, Dying To Look Good and
online at DyingToLookGood.com.