Should we ban Triclosan in Antibacterial soaps?


A research study conducted at the University of Minnesota recently, has shown that Triclosan – a key anti-bacterial agent found in 75% of all antibacterial Soaps, toothpastes, detergents, deodorants and other cleaning products across the world, can actually be harmful for human health, as it can disrupt the hormone regulation process in a human body. It may also lower the testosterone and thyroid hormone levels among it’s users, while causing a few allergies too.

According to a recent report published on “; The authorities in Minnesota have responded to this discovery, by passing a new law, which will lead to the prohibition of Triclosan use in cleaning products, by the year 2017. So after a few years, it will be totally illegal in Minnesota, to produce or sell any such products, comprising of this chemical.

Over the past several decades, it was generally observed and believed that Triclosan is able to kill bacteria, safely, as it disables a specific enzyme, useful during the process of fatty acid synthesis. It was believed, that the chemical doesn’t affect human enzymes, making it safe for common use. However, the recent study has exposed the possible harmful effects of this chemical. Another important observation by scientists highlighted that there has been a rapid build up of Triclosan in the sediments of numerous lakes which receive drain water.

If we evaluate the scenario of cleaning products being commonly sold in Pakistan, we do see Triclosan being used and proudly advertised in several product campaigns, which claim that the chemical makes the products more effective in eliminating bacteria.

Some of the most popular Antibacterial soaps sold all over Pakistan, contain Triclosan. Such products have also been endorsed by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (IDSP). However, besides containing 0.25% Triclosan, some of these soaps also contain Triclocarban – which is a more powerful version of this anti-bacterial agent. A renowned toothpaste brand in Pakistan is also marketing a Triclosan-based product.

According to news reports, fear is developing among the Minnesota research scientists, that if Triclosan is allowed to prevail in the atmosphere and environment, it can also cause mutations and evolution in bacteria, making the bacteria resistant to this chemical over time. Thus, the antibacterial soaps will soon become less effective during use at hospitals, where the need for antibacterial soaps is most critical. The study shows that, when it is discharged into surface waters via wastewater effluents -triclosan reacts photochemically to form polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins.

Commenting on the discovery, the Secretary General of Pakistan Medical Association (Center), Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar stated that; “We have recently read about the possible harmful effects of Triclosan. However, the chemical is being used across the globe for Bacteria control, over many decades. Therefore, we will need to look deeper into this matter, before reaching any concrete decision about Triclosan use in Pakistan.

June 5, 2014

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