Here’s a way to be healthier, as well as gentler on the environment this year that you may not have considered: stop using antibacterial products, such as soaps and wipes, and some toothpastes, mouthwashes, and deodorants. The main villain here is a common chemical called triclosan, which is harmful to the environment, can disrupt hormones, and can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Thankfully, the US Food and Drug Administration is finally placing triclosan under scrutiny, demanding that it be proven safe and more effective against infection than regular soap and water. If not, it may be removed from the market.
The main problem with triclosan from a public health standpoint is that it’s not actually that effective at killing germs. It kills off the weaker bacteria, leaving the stronger ones behind. That’s a perfect formula for breeding bacterial resistance.
Companies have until December 2014 to prove that the products that contain triclosan are safe. Until then, it is up to us to read labels and watch out for this ingredient. If you are concerned, turn over the bottle of any antibacterial; if triclosan is in it, then it will be clearly labeled as the active ingredient.