Photo: 11 ways to dodge dreaded triclosan

Toothpaste is one of the places triclosan can hide in the bathtroom. Avoiding it is easy, once you know what your looking for. (Credit: cmbellman via Flickr)

A preservative and antimicrobial, triclosan is a dirty dozen ingredient found in more than 1,600 Canadian products — from soap and cosmetics to carpets and kitchenware.

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Triclosan bioaccumulates — it builds up in tissue as it moves up the food chain. It's toxic to aquatic ecosystems and suspected to have serious human health impacts. The Canadian Medical Association recommends triclosan be banned from household products, it's on Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and rated a high hazard by the Environmental Working Group.

Some leading brands are phasing out triclosan in response to mounting pressure, but the process is slow.

In the meantime, here's how to dodge the dreaded triclosan:

1. Read labels: Triclosan is marketed under more than a dozen different names including Microban, Irgasan, Biofresh, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac and Cloxifenolum.

2. Avoid antibacterials: Beware of products claiming to be antimicrobial, germ fighting or antibacterial.

3. Switch to castile soap: Most liquid hand soaps contain triclosan. Pure castile soap and select cosmetics brands do not. (Dispose of triclosan-containing soaps safely. Do NOT pour them down drains.)

4. Check the EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database: They rate triclosan as a high hazard. Choose products rated as safe (0-3).

5. Dust: Triclosan shows up in household dust, so a clean home is healthier.

6. Purge your bathroom cabinet: Triclosan can be found in toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, deodorant, over-the-counter medications, cosmetics and hand creams.

7. Cleanse your kitchen: Use triclosan-free dish soap, food containers, kitchenware, cutting boards and countertops. Better yet, avoid plastics in your kitchen altogether!

8. Avoid treated materials: Triclosan is used as a preservative in textiles, leather, paper, plastic and rubber. Pay attention when purchasing towels, mattresses, bedding, sponges, carpets, shoes, mouse pads, yoga mats, shower curtains sportswear.

9. Check your hot tub: Triclosan is turning up in hot tub linings, too. A 2008 study found products containing triclosan can react with chlorine at warm temperatures to create chloroform.

10. Think small: A surprising number of school supplies contain triclosan, under the name Microban. Swap suspected items out for safer options.

11. Think big: Get active in your community. Work with your school, community center or office to eliminate antibacterial soaps and help keep our water systems — and us — triclosan free.

Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green

October 22, 2013

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Nov 06, 2013
5:50 PM

I don’t mean to nitpick but your article could carry more weight if you spelled words properly. The caption below the picture contains two spelling errors, “bathtroom” and “your” (you’re).

But the facts included were very helpful, thank you!

Oct 24, 2013
7:27 PM

Sensodyne ProNamel toothpaste lists medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients and they to not include triclosan.

Oct 24, 2013
5:57 PM

Good tips, thanks! One area I worry about is children’s boots (and adult boots, too)! Last year, I tried to find winter boots for both my son that do not include an “antimicrobial” lining. It was almost impossible. I’ve run into the same problem this year, now that his feet have grown another size. I have also learned in my travels that many companies are putting these products in children’s socks, etc. A disturbing trend!

Oct 24, 2013
4:56 PM

I dispute these so called facts!

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