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Anti-Bacterial Products

Many products which are labeled "anti-bacterial" or "anti-microbial" contain triclosan, a chemical with significant health and environmental impacts. Triclosan (also known as Microban, Irgasan, or Ultra-Fresh,) breaks down into dioxin, a chemical that has been classified as a probable human carcinogen, and is also known to be an endocrine disruptor. Triclosan can also break down into chloroform, a probable carcinogen.


Triclosan's use as a pesticide is regulated by the EPA, and its use in hand washing soaps has been banned by the FDA, but existing inventories can still be sold. Its use in cosmetics, soaps, and other personal care products continues, and the FDA has placed virtually no regulations on these other uses. Many European nations have either banned or severely restricted the use of triclosan in their consumer products.

Writing in Notepad

Triclosan and its related cousins are used in office products such as scissors, pens and calculators, as well as First Aid kits, kitchenware, humidifiers and many other products offering "anti-microbial" benefits. 


Beyond Pesticides is a national non-profit organization focused on alerting the public to the dangers of pesticides and supporting safe alternatives. They have put together an informative fact sheet on triclosan.

Womens' Voices for the Earth have produced a simple fact sheet on triclosan.


[1] Dhillon, G., et al. (2015). Triclosan, Current status, Occurrence, Environmental Risks, and Bioaccumulation Potential. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(5), 5657-5784.

[2] Braun, J. M., et al. (2016). What Can Epidemiological Studies Tell Us about the Impact of Chemical Mixtures on Human Health? Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(1). 

[3] Heck, J. E., et al. (2014). Risk of leukemia in relation to exposure to ambient air toxics in pregnancy and early childhood. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 217(6), 662-668.

[4] Taştan, B. E., et al. (2017). Toxicity assessment of pesticide triclosan by aquatic organisms and degradation studies. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 91, 208-215.

[5] United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Triclosan.

[6] Minnesota Department of Health. (2016, December 2). Which Soap is Best?

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