Triclosan is one of the most widely used antibacterial agents. It can be found in anything from skin cleansers, toothpastes and cosmetics, to plastic toys, mattresses and cutting boards. Triclocarban is similar in structure to triclosan and most commonly used in antibacterial soaps. Pretty much anything labeled as “antibacterial”, “fights odors” or “kill germs” contains at least one of these two nasties. But could this harm fish?
Nasty? Why? Well according to a GreenScreen® assessment carried out on behalf of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, triclosan is irritating to human skin and membranes, can potentially disrupt hormones, accumulates in soil and is dangerous to aquatic life. Triclocarban has similar effects and is almost off the scale when it comes to harmful effects on aquatic life. Once you realize that 95% of the products containing either of these ingredients get washed down the drain, then it’s understandable that this is of major concern.
In July this year, Minnesota became the first US state to issue a ban on triclosan-containing products. Europe is ahead of the game and has already begun phasing out triclosan-containing disinfectants and algaecides; film preservatives and fiber; leather; rubber and plastic-type materials.
Interestingly, numerous studies have shown no benefits of “antibacterial” products over normal soap and water. So why buy a product that contains environmental toxins? We suggest you don’t. That way, you can continue to enjoy that beautiful lake or river just down the road from you for many years to come.
Thorpe B. Clean production Action. Chemicals in Consumer Products are Draining Trouble into the Great Lakes Ecosystem. GreenScreen® Assessment Shows Triclosan and Triclocarban Should Be Avoided. July 2014.