Junk Science? Number 59: Triclosan the door on this chemical

Triclosan the door on this chemical

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one million pounds of the chemical are produced annually. It is found in soaps, especially ‘anti-bacterial liquid soaps, hand sanitisers, toothpastes, mouthwashes and now even tap water, human blood plasma, urine and breast milk.

A study by the University of California, Davis and the University of Colorado ( showed that the chemical hinders muscle contraction at the cellular level, affecting the heart’s capacity to circulate blood. It reduces muscle strength in mice, and swimming performance in fish (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Researchers exposed mice to the equivalent level of triclosan as a person is exposed to from household products each day. The first mouse died from heart failure within a minute. The scientists then lowered the dosage and found the chemical decreased heart function by 25 percent within 20 minutes. Limb strength was reduced by 18 percent for 60 minutes after the agent was administered. Dr. Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, the study’s co-author and professor of cardiovascular medicine, said in a press release, “The effects of Triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic … Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.”

In an ABC article on the study, Michelle Castillo noted, “Triclosan binds to blood proteins and is easily expelled through urine or other body processes, which is why it’s typically considered to be harmless to humans. However, for people who do not metabolize the agent quickly, it can remain in the blood for quite some time. Also, some of the experiments the researchers conducted were done with blood proteins available, and even though the triclosan was binding to them, it still disrupted the muscle activity. However, most concerning is the fact that people with heart conditions may be more affected by exposure because of their weakened muscle state.”

Further reading:

12 Toxic Toiletries to watch out for:
Toxins under the Sink

Sources for this article include:

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