If you go to the racetrack and hit the trifecta, you bet correctly on which horse would finish in first, second and third place. We don’t think that betting on horses is generally good for your health, but if you did hit the trifecta, you hit on a very good bet.
For a long time, triclosan was thought to be a pretty good bet too, because it helped knock out unwanted bacteria in consumer and hospital products. It’s been used in everything from cleaning supplies to toothpaste — in fact, it’s a good bet that any product that says “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” on the label contains triclosan or its cousin triclocarbon.
Unfortunately, triclosan’s antiseptic properties are toxic to the liver, thyroid and lungs. It’s also a hormone disruptor and promotes antibiotic resistance. So the Food and Drug Administration has banned it for use in over-the-counter health care antiseptic products, labeling it non-GRAS (“not generally regarded as safe”). Previously it was banned from use in soaps, but even with this new ban, it’s still in use until December 2018 (that’s when it, along with 23 other chemicals, has to be out of products).
For a complete list of consumer products (215) that contain triclosan, go to the Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG.org) and look for Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
The good news is that triclosan is in a lot fewer products than it used to be. The FDA proposed this ban in 2015, but we and the EWG have been sounding the triclosan alarm for almost 15 years.