I recently came across an antibacterial handwash brand that I hadn’t seen before. The company promoted it as Australian made, plant based, vegan friendly and paraben free.
Ah, but it’s active ingredient is triclosan. Goes to show we can’t trust the front label that usually hosts all the great selling points.
This is the same triclosan that, in 2012, Canada declared toxic to the environment.
The same triclosan that, in 2016, the US banned from hand sanitiser and soaps because of data suggesting that long-term exposure could increase the risk of bacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. The FDA requested manufacturers to supply safety data and effectiveness of 19 active ingredients, 2 of which were triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps). Long story short, either no additional data were submitted or the data submitted were not sufficient for the ingredients to be considered safe and effective.
From the Canadian Government’s Tricolsan information sheet: “Triclosan is highly toxic to a variety of aquatic organisms, such as algae and fish. Adverse effects observed include reduced growth, reproduction and survival, and there is evidence of effects on the endocrine system of aquatic organisms at environmentally relevant concentrations. This substance is also highly toxic to certain soil organisms.”
From Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research: “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water. In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
So an ingredient that is considered toxic to humans and the environment in other parts of the world is allowed in products in Australia. Righto.
Waterless antibacterial sanitiser can be really useful when you’re out with limited or no access to soap and water, but when you need one, opt for a brand that uses at least 60% alcohol as the active ingredient.