Editors' Blog

Green Living editors dish on the latest trends and happenings in sustainability.

The Trouble with Triclosan: Environmental Defence's new report

How a Pervasive Antibacterial Chemical is Polluting our World and our Bodies

Triclosan is a toxic anti-bacterial chemical found in over a thousand Canadian products. Environmental Defence has been raising the alarm about this hormone-disrupting chemical since 2009, when Executive Director Dr. Rick Smith published the results of his triclosan tests in Slow Death by Rubber Duck, co-authored with Bruce Lourie.

To see how widespread triclosan has become in the bodies of Canadians, Environmental Defence tested eight consumers of various ages. Their tests, published in The Trouble with Triclosan report, found the chemical in seven of our eight volunteers. These are the first publicly available data on triclosan levels in Canadian adults.

What do the results mean? With triclosan appearing in seven of eight volunteers it’s clear that its use in consumer products is too widespread. Some of the participants make conscious efforts to avoid toxic products, and so were surprised to find it in their systems. The average amount of triclosan in volunteers was found to be above the level at which triclosan is toxic to marine organisms, including certain species of algae, crustaceans and fish.

The explosive proliferation of triclosan in consumer products has resulted in the contamination of waterways, and may contribute to the rise of anti-bacterial resistance.

On March 30, Health Canada and Environment Canada published a draft assessment of triclosan, which concluded that the chemical can cause harm to the environment. A voluntary ban on the use of triclosan is one of the risk management options being considered.

In light of their findings, and in light of the Canadian Medical Association’s call for a ban, Environmental Defence recommends a mandatory ban on the use of triclosan in household products. Such a ban would protect the health of Canadians, and the health of fish, wildlife and the environment, from continued exposure to this pervasive toxin.

For more information, download their guide to triclosan, or a copy of the report. Support the call for a ban on triclosan by signing a petition, and sharing the link with your friends and family. Triclosan is unnecessary and unhealthy, and there’s no time like the present to kick it out of Canadian products.

Join ED social media contest. Since triclosan can be found in everything from cell phone cases to kitchen utensils to underwear, share the weirdest product in which you've found triclosan. To enter the contest, you can tweet or post your answer on Environmental Defence's facebook wall on Wednesday, May 16th.

Environmental Defence