Written by Loren Grush
Introduced in the 1970s, the compound triclosan has become an increasingly popular ingredient in many antibacterial soaps and other personal-care items, such as deodorants and mouthwashes. However, as the chemical’s popularity continues to grow, a recent report has raised concerns about some frightening risks that triclosan could pose to public health.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that exposure to triclosan is linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, as well as slowing the swimming of fish. By reducing contractions in both cardiac and skeletal muscles, the chemical has the potential to contribute to heart disease and heart failure.
The researchers from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado decided to examine the possible effects of triclosan due to recent literature raising health concerns about the chemical, as well as substantial increases in its production.
“We consider [triclosan] a high volume chemical,” Dr. Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the study’s lead author, told FoxNews.com. “Its production levels are quite high, and the levels in humans have been increasing since it was first used as an antibacterial agent in the early ‘70s. So the body levels in humans – including plasma, urine and breast milk – have been steadily increasing.”
“The levels in the environment have been increasing as well, because it can’t all be trapped in the treatment plants,” Pessah added about triclosan’s prevalence. “[Companies] try to prevent some chemicals getting out past the water treatment plants so they can dispose of them in a different way, but they can’t capture all of [triclosan] because there is so much of it.”
Primarily used in antibacterial hand soaps, triclosan can also be found in a number of bath and household products, including mouthwashes, toothpastes, deodorants, bedding, washcloths and towels, kitchen utensils and toys.
Effects on muscle contraction