Q:

What common products contain triclosan?

A:

Quick Answer

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent found in disinfectants, household cleaners, hand soaps, body washes and toothpastes. It is also applied to the surfaces of kitchenware, clothing and toys to inhibit bacterial growth.

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Full Answer

Clinical studies show that triclosan in toothpaste is effective at reducing the risk of gingivitis. The FDA states that there is no evidence of its effectiveness in other applications, and that in some cases its use may be harmful. Its risks come from both direct toxicity and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Animal studies cited by both the FDA and the Mayo Clinic demonstrate a link between triclosan and disruption of hormones and the immune system. Triclosan is absorbed through the skin; applying the product topically still results in an internal dose of triclosan. Seventy-five percent of children and adults test positive for triclosan in their urine, according to another study cited by the Mayo Clinic.

A University of California study shows a more serious link between triclosan and liver disease. The doses used in the study disrupt liver function and eventually lead to liver cancer in mice. While these studies are not performed on humans, the tissues and molecular mechanisms affected by triclosan exist in both mice and humans.

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