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Posted on October 27, 2017 by Beatrice Jocom

#ReadtheLabel: Germ-Free Isn't Always Harm-Free

Before eating, after holding money, before touching a doorknob, after using the toilet – we're always being reminded to use hand sanitizers, and with good reason! Our hands get the most contact with public surfaces AND our mouth, nose and near our eyes, the main gateways for germs to get into our system. 

And really, the only way for us to significantly lower our risk of getting sick is through regular and thorough hand washing and sanitization.


But did you know that a common ingredient used in hand soaps and sanitizers has been classified as a human carcinogen? Next on our #ReadTheLabel series, we'll be talking about triclosan, what years of research found out about it, and why you should totally skip the risk.


Triclosan is a common ingredient used in hand sanitizers to reduce or prevent bacterial infection. But for decades, a number of environmental, academic and regulatory groups have voiced out their concern with using this ingredient in personal care products, especially with growing research linking it to possible health risks and negative impact on the environment. 


Triclosan has also been found in waterways and agricultural fields, raising another concern that its presence in certain sources of drinking water and crops can expose us to higher concentrations of it. 

Triclosan has been banned in the European Union since 2015 and by the US FDA since 2016. Some local department stores have also started sweeping their shelves of products containing triclosan.

But what takes the cake is that triclosan (after years of including it in hand soaps and sanitizers) does not kill more bacteria than good old soap and water! 


Because of these findings, plus the demand from groups and shoppers alike to stop the use of the ingredient, big personal care brands have started to remove triclosan from their products and are aiming to remove it totally from any of their formulations in the coming years.

So if you have your handy-dandy hand sanitizer with you, take it out right now and check the ingredients list quick. If you see any triclosan included, better to skip the risk and look for a new one — a hand sanitizer that's formulated with safer natural ingredients with ethyl alcohol and essential oils. Same goes for your hand soap at home! Look for ingredients that are instead derived from natural resources like coconut, plant oils and rice bran.

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