I received an email that made me aware of a disturbing environmental and health hazard that I think most people, myself included, are unaware of. The culprit is an antibacterial chemical used in many common household and commercial cleaning products called Triclosan. It is the main ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps. Triclosan is a very effective germ killer. However, when we use it, it gets washed down the drain and ends up in waterways, lakes, rivers, aquifers, and back into our drinking water. In addition to killing germs, it kills fish and other aquatic life, and can cause antibiotic resistant ‘super-bacteria’. Water purification processes do not eliminate this chemical. Triclosan also interacts with free chlorine in tap water and degrades under sunlight to produce chloroform, which is both toxic and carcinogenic following inhalation or skin absorption.
After reading this article I wanted to know more about this so I Googled ‘Triclosan anti-bacterial soap’, and found many more articles supporting these claims, as well as, discussing health concerns for humans.
Get involved in the process and be a skeptical shopper. It’s relatively easy to avoid triclosan in personal-care products because the law requires it to be printed on the ingredients list. It’s used in many antibacterial soaps, some sanitizers, and toothpaste.
Triclosan is also impregnated into many other products, from textiles to shoes to plastic toys—even kids’ rulers and lunch sacks. These product labels may list Microban or Irgasan, which are other names for triclosan. If you see these terms, or words like “antimicrobial” or “odor-free,” pick something untreated.
Most hand sanitizers, such as Purell, use alcohol and do not contain triclosan.
As a Jones Lang Lasalle employee, and member of the ACT committee, it is gratifying to know that our property management teams have committed to using green cleaning supplies as much as possible.