What do credit cards, hockey helmets, kids' toys, trashcans, toothpaste, deodorants and shaving creams have in common? They all could contain triclosan, which for a long time has been touted as an effective antimicrobial (a bacteria slayer). Then, a few years ago, it was discovered that triclosan could contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs, or super-bugs, and the Food and Drug Administration banned its use in hospital cleaning agents and consumer soaps.
Unfortunately, the FDA can't regulate paints, clothes, sporting equipment or furniture. That's why you still can find triclosan in those products and in anything else that advertises itself as having "antimicrobial properties." So it continues to cause trouble, both in the biosphere and for you.
Most recently, research published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy revealed how triclosan can help bacteria become more resistant to antibiotic treatments for diseases such as urinary tract infections. Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that repeated triclosan exposure makes bacteria able to survive "normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics," including the old staple ciprofloxacin (Cipro). Previous research has found that triclosan alters hormone regulation and could be harmful to your immune system.
Be on your guard for clothing, house paints and toys, etc., that claim to control or kill germs and bacteria. There's a good chance they contain triclosan. Manufacturers are not required to put that info in their labeling.
Tip: Washing your hands thoroughly with plain soap and water is just as effective at getting rid of unwanted bacteria as so-called antimicrobials.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.