Triclosan: Health Effects
The antibacterial compound Triclosan has been linked to numerous human health problems. Exposures come mainly by absorption through the skin or through the lining of the mouth. These exposures have resulted in contact dermatitis, or skin irritation, and an increase in allergic reactions, especially in children.
Triclosan has also been detected in human milk samples and in urine at high concentrations that correlate with the use pattern of this compound. Recent studies have also found that Triclosan interferes with the body’s thyroid hormone metabolism and maybe a potential endocrine disruptor. Children exposed to antibacterial compounds at an early age also have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
There are also concerns about Triclosan and its link with dioxin, which is highly carcinogenic and can cause health problems as severe as weakening of the immune system, decreased fertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and cancer. Recent work shows that Triclosan promotes liver cancer cell development in mice through pathways shared with humans.
While products with this antibacterial agent claim to promote good health, these claims are indeed misleading. Triclosan does not provide any additional health benefits to the consumer, but it does pose risks to human health, most of which are understudied.
- Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (CDC, 2009, 2010)
- The Impact of Bisphenol A and Triclosan on Immune Parameters in the US Population, NHANES 2003-2006. (Environ Health Perspect, 2010)
- Effects of Triclosan on the normal intestinal microbiota and on susceptibility to experimental murine colitis (FASEB J, 2009)
- Triclosan in plasma and milk from Swedish nursing mothers and their exposure via personal care products (Science of the Total Environment, 2006)
- Triclosan, a commonly used bactericide found in human milk and in the aquatic environment in Sweden (Chemosphere, 2002)
- Risk assessment of Triclosan [Irgasan(r)]in human breast milk (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2007)
- Urinary Concentrations of Triclosan in the U.S. Population: 2003–2004 (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2007)
- Pharmacokinetics of Triclosan following oral ingestion in humans (J. of Tox. and Environ. Health, 2006)
- The influence of age and gender on Triclosan concentrations in Australian human blood serum (Science of the Total Environment, 2007)
Evidence of endocrine disruption:
- Triclosan is a potent inhibitor of estradiol and estrone sulfonation in sheep placenta (Environ Int. 2010)
- Some flame retardants and the antimicrobials Triclosan and triclocarban enhance the androgenic activity in vitro (Chemosphere. 2010)
- Triclosan Exposure Modulates Estrogen-Dependent Responses in the Female Wistar Rat (Toxicol. Sci. 2010)
- Short-term Exposure to Triclosan Decreases Thyroxine In Vivo via Upregulation of Hepatic Catabolism in Young Long-Evans Rats (Toxicol. Sci. 2010)
- Alteration of testicular steroidogenesis and histopathology of reproductive system in male rats treated with Triclosan (Reprod Toxicol. 2009 )
- Estrogenic and androgenic activity of Triclosan in breast cancer cells (Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2007)
- Short-term in vivo exposure to the water contaminant Triclosan: Evidence for disruption of thyroxine (Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2007)
- Environmental oestrogens, cosmetics and breast cancer (Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2006)
- The effects of Triclosan on puberty and thyroid hormones in male wistar rats (Toxicological Sciences, 2008)
Other Health Effects:
- The commonly used antimicrobial additive triclosan is a liver tumor promoter (PNAS, 2014)
- Triclosan affects axon formation in the neural development stages of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos (Environmental Pollution, 2017)
- Prenatal Triclosan Exposure and Anthropometric Measures Including Anogenital Distance in Danish Infants (Environmental Health Perspectives 2016): Prenatal triclosan exposure associated with reduced head circumference, a trait linked to cognitive impairment.
- Determination of Parabens and Triclosan in Indoor Dust Using Matrix Solid-Phase Dispersion and Gas Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (Analytical Chemistry,2007)
- Effect of Triclosan (TRN) on energy-linked functions of rat liver mitochondria (Tox. Letters, 2005)
- Early-life exposure to antibacterials…(Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2003)
- Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern (Emerging Infectious Disease, 2001)
- Allergic contact dermatitis from Triclosan in antibacterial handwashes (Contact Dermatitis, 2001)