The overuse of antibacterial products in the United States is a HUGE problem. While I enjoy sterilizing my hands after riding the subway as much as the next person, the amount of anti-bacterial deodorants, toothpaste, and hand soaps used across our country is a bit extreme. It’s bad enough doctors have become glorified antibiotic vending machines, but rubbing anti-bacterials all over your skin…no wonder we have super bugs!

Antibiotic resistant bacteria aren’t the only concern that comes with the overuse of these antibacterial products as there are a whole host of other environmental, animal and health concerns.

It is exactly for this reason that the Minnesota Senate banned the anti-bacterial chemical, triclosan from retail consumer products. This particular chemical can be found in nearly 75 percent of consumer products. So why is this such a big deal?

Triclosan not only kills bacteria, but it is also an endocrine disruptor that has been shown to disrupt hormones critical for reproduction. When washed down the drain, triclosan breaks down into dioxins (chemicals toxic to humans and animals) which have been found in the sediments of lakes and ponds.

Despite this proposed ban and the decision by Johnson & Johnson, as well as Proctor and Gamble, to ban the chemical from their products, triclosan has yet to be banned on a national level. Why?

Marketing. Playing to our collective germaphobia, these soaps are considered essential by people who are otherwise not aware of the negative environmental and health effects. Well, that and the American Cleaning Institute which has repeatedly asserted the “health” benefits of keeping triclosan in all the products they endorse.

So, the bottom line on this issue is, we are exposed to so many chemicals in all the products we use every single day. Would you want to willingly expose yourself to endocrine disruptors because a cleaning association told you to? Or would you prefer to know the facts?

Until triclosan is banned on a national level, check to make sure the soap, body wash, toothpaste, and deodorant are triclosan-free!

Image source: Arlington County/Flickr