RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Antibacterial soap? How about antibacterial bodies? With cold and flu season right around the corner, the thought of germ-killing chemicals pulsing through our veins may seem appealing at first mention, but the truth is, antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan are injected into so many everyday products that levels of the chemical—listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide—is sharply rising inside our bodies. That's a serious health threat for people of all ages, because the estrogenic chemical can interfere with hormones needed for the brain and reproductive systems to develop correctly, and has been linked to infertility and other problems. Research also links the growing use of triclosan to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections that are expensive to treat and sometimes fatal.
THE DETAILS: According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released late this summer, our bodies, on average, now harbor 50 percent more triclosan than they did just six years ago. The updated data found that the increase occurred in all age groups, in both men and women, and in all ethnicities. The highest exposures were observed in people over 20 years old, females, and Mexican-Americans. The data comes on the heels of a University of Toledo study that found triclosan is taken up by food crops, in this instance, soybeans, a crop that's used in a dizzying array of processed foods. (More on how it gets there later.)