November 1, 2008
My mother’s germophobia was nothing compared to the phobics today. Okay, I’ll admit that I am loath to touch anything in an airplane bathroom and I do swab my seat and surroundings and myself when flying. I also am not too keen on shopping cart handles in the grocery store- and there are wipes at the door-BUT- what is in those wipes? Something very questionable, actually. There is quite a fuss being made about germs and just as big a fuss about the health dangers of the antibacterial chemicals we use in the name of good health and cleanliness. I am of the opinion that I am not willing to dirty and endanger myself with chemicals thinking that I am cleaner for the application of triclosan and the like. I mean, whatever happened to soap and water? Surely there are herbs and essential oils which can do as good as or even better job of cleaning and protecting my skin, my countertops, my bathtub, my teeth? There is evidence that plain soap and water are as effective.
First of all, a well-known and dangerous ingredient of many household items is triclosan. Found in toothpastes, shampoos, cleaning products, lipsticks, children’s toys, fabrics and would you believe…even toothbrushes triclosan and triclocarbon act as antibacterial agents. The antimicrobial industry is approaching the billion dollar a year level. It is a huge market for chemical companies. However, triclosan had its humble beginnings as a scrubbing agent for hospital use. Interestingly enough it is registered as a pesticide with the EPA.
The Townsend Letter presents a very compelling look at the oversights of the EPA and FDA with regard to our safety from overexposure to triclosan and other antimicrobial agents. Some hazards include the chloroform toxic gas that is created when using antimicrobial dishwashing or hand soap with chlorinated water! Dr Stewart Levy in a paper presented to the CDC, suggests that these heavy hitting products are not useful in a healthy household and after years of overuse and misuse of these drugs, bacteria have developed antibiotic resistance, which has become a global health crisis. The “increase of surface antibacterial agents or biocides into healthy households may contribute to the resistance problem”.
The known health hazards are numerous and include:accumulation of residues through skin and mucosal absorption, residues can be found in human fatty tissue and breast milk traceable to use of products containing triclosan. Although it may take years for the EPA and FDA to regulate this toxin, we can easily elect not to use them and change the future of the health of ourselves and our families. 4 major grocery chains in the UK have banned the sale of products containing triclosan.
Choice of materials provide options. Read about copper fixtures! Thanks, Josh. There are numerous choices for personal use which can be found at the natural food store. Here is a great link for alternatives including recipe for your own hand sanitizer.
READ LABELS, ASK QUESTIONS, DON’T SETTLE