Triclosan-an ingredient added to certain soaps, cosmetics, clothing, cookware, furniture and toys to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Recent studies, however, have raised questions about whether triclosan might be hazardous to human health.
Research has shown that triclosan:
- Alters hormone regulation in animals
- Might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs
- Might be harmful to the immune system
Handwashing with antibacterial soap exposes hospital workers to significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan, a widely-used chemical currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study led by researchers from UC San Francisco.
In the current study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers analyzed urine samples from two groups of 38 doctors and nurses three fourths of them women at two hospitals, identified as Hospital 1 and Hospital 2. Hospital 1 used an antibacterial soap containing 0.3 percent triclosan, while Hospital 2 used plain soap and water.
Workers at Hospital 1 had significantly higher levels of triclosan in their urine than workers at Hospital 2.
“Antimicrobial soaps can carry unknown risks, and triclosan is of particular concern,” said co-investigator Paul Blanc, MD, a professor of medicine at UCSF who holds the Endowed Chair in Occupational and Environmental …
The extensive use of triclosan in consumer products may contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some countries such as Canada and The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban on antibacterial consumer products, such as those containing triclosan.
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