Triclosan continues to cause harm

The cold and flu season is in full swing. So you need to make sure you wash your hands and face frequently with soap and water. You can also keep some hand sanitizer with you and in your car for when you can’t wash at a sink.

But make sure to only use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Avoid any product that contains the “anti-bacterial” agent triclosan.

Alcohol-based sanitizers are perfectly safe and effective and have been used in medical practice for centuries. But there is never any reason to use triclosan. In anything. Ever.

Actually, I’ve been warning about this toxic chemical for years. And the FDA finally acted to ban it from consumer products. But the ban won’t fully take effect for years, which gives manufacturers plenty of time to continue to reap profits.

But no profit can outweigh the pollution this chemical is causing. It has been found present in our municipal water supplies. Plus, experts estimate that 75 percent of Americans have triclosan in their blood and urine! It’s even in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

I have never knowingly touched a product with triclosan in my life. And I hope you haven’t either.

But beware. Companies add triclosan to cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste, and soap. They even add it to kitchen utensils, such as cutting boards and ice cream scoopers.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t broadcast the fact that their wares contain triclosan. So it can be hard to spot the dangerous products. Even the government played a part in hiding the truth…

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2012 revealed that Colgate-Palmolive conspired with the FDA to withhold research on the toxicity of triclosan during the 1990s. The information withheld included evidence of bone abnormalities in laboratory animals exposed to triclosan.

Some experts also have concerns about triclosan and cancers. In fact, research published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last November demonstrated that triclosan causes liver fibrosis (one of the features of cirrhosis and ultimately liver failure) as well as liver cancer, a largely untreatable, fatal cancer in the U.S. The damage to the liver also makes it more difficult for the liver to metabolize and de-contaminate other toxins taken in from the environment and in food and water.

The researchers at the University of California, Davis, observed these effects in lab animals just six months after exposure to triclosan. Biologically, this period is considered roughly equivalent to 18 years in humans.

Although your body absorbs some triclosan hidden in consumer products, most of it washes down the drain and ends up in water sources. Including municipal water supplies, where it contaminates drinking water.

Plus, municipal water treatment facilities don’t act to filter out or decontaminate triclosan. So eventually, triclosan makes its way into the soil, where it contaminates plants, animals, and people all over again.

Unfortunately, we don’t fully understand its effects on aquatic life. However, bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and shigella became resistant to triclosan fairly easily. So even if you “clean” your hands with an anti-bacterial soap that contains triclosan, it may not kill these nasty bacteria.

Actually, this process contributed to the proliferation of these dangerous, treatment-resistant, gastrointestinal “superbugs.”

It’s not rocket science to understand that so-called “anti-bacterial” agents simply create more dangerous, resistant bugs.

Triclosan is one of seven toxic chemicals frequently detected in U.S. streams.

And it’s hard to sort out which chemical causes which effect.

This unfortunate reality presents obstacles in trying to take legal actions against health-harming pollutants. In my experience in forensic medicine, pathology, and toxicology, judges demand evidence on each and every individual toxin, using the argument that a given problem associated with one chemical exposure may actually be due to another (the so-called “toxic soup” defense argument).

Of course, organisms in Nature usually find a way to protect themselves from individual toxin attacks. But they get overwhelmed when hit by many different poisons at once. Unfortunately, wildlife today swim in and drink an actual “toxic soup” of harmful chemicals. We too live in a factual “toxic soup,” despite the niceties of legal definitions.

So where does this leave us?

Biologists predict we are now on the verge of another biological extinction, where up to 40 percent of animal species–like frogs, certain birds, and insects such as bees–could disappear.

Of course, prior extinctions resulted from global cooling (Ice Ages) and meteor impacts. But pollution from modern, unnatural agricultural practices and consumer products could bring on this next disaster.

Transforming the aquatic environment, which is the cradle of life, into a toxic soup of chemicals will extinguish life. So–rather than providing a defense against germs and bacteria–these chemicals could ultimately help kill off all life on this planet.

In the meantime, our judicial system largely doesn’t take action because the laws of Nature don’t correspond to their laws of jurisprudence. That does not sound very prudent to me.

So fend off the germs this winter. But only with soap and water…or an alcohol-based sanitizer. I’ll tell you more about what kind of hand sanitizers to use and not use next week.


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