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Triclosan and Antibiotics resistance

2. What are the main uses of triclosan?

  • 2.1 How is triclosan used in cosmetics?
  • 2.2 How is triclosan used in health care and medical devices?
  • 2.3 How is triclosan used in other consumer products?
  • 2.4 Is triclosan used in food production?
Triclosan is used in detergents and soaps
Triclosan is used in detergents and soaps
Credit: Sanja Gjenero

Triclosan is effective against many different bacteria as well as some fungi and protozoa it is widely used as an antiseptic, preservative and disinfectant in healthcare and in many consumer products including cosmetics, household cleaning products, plastic materials, toys and paints. It is also included in surface of medical devices, plastic materials, textiles and kitchen utensils where it acts as a bactericide for extended periods of time.

In the EU, about 450 tons of triclosan were used in 2006. About 85% of the total volume of triclosan was used in personal care products, compared to 5% for textiles and 10% for plastics and food contact materials. Since then, triclosan has been banned from use in food-contact materials. More...

2.1 How is triclosan used in cosmetics?

Triclosan is incorporated in cosmetics mainly as a preservative, to stop bacteria from growing on the product and spoiling it. It is also used as a biocide in many other personal care products such as deodorants, soaps and shower gels. Another biocidal application of triclosan is in toothpastes and other dental products to control plaque and improve the health of the gums.

A limit of 0.3% concentration of triclosan in toothpastes, hand soaps, body soaps/shower gels and deodorant sticks is considered safe, but people who use many different cosmetics containing triclosan, could end up being exposed to excessive and unsafe amounts. Using triclosan in products that are intended to be left on the consumer and not rinsed off such as body lotions or mouthwashes is not safe. More...

2.2 How is triclosan used in health care and medical devices?

Triclosan is very effective at killing microorganisms so it is widely used in healthcare. For instance, many of the handwashes in hospitals and the detergents that medical personnel use to scrub up before surgery, contain triclosan. Patients who have MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are also washed with triclosan-containing products before an operation.

Triclosan is used in a number of medical devices. For example, it is coated on the surface of catheters and surgical sutures from where it is slowly released over a period of time. The effectiveness of triclosan in surgical sutures is unclear but it is well known that triclosan stops urinary catheters being invaded and blocked by bacteria and so prevent urinary tract infections. More...

2.3 How is triclosan used in other consumer products?

Triclosan is used in a wide range of products intended for home use such as liquid soaps, detergents, chopping boards, children’s toys, carpets.

Triclosan and other biocides are increasingly added to clothing articles. The fabrics are treated with chemicals that trap the biocide inside so that they have antibacterial properties over a long period of time.

The benefits of using anti-microbial soap are still unclear, some studies suggest that soaps containing less than 1% triclosan (where the EU limit is 0.3%) seem to provide no benefit over soaps containing none, while some have seen a reduction in the amount of bacteria on the hands even at 0.46% Triclosan. It is also unclear if the antibacterial action of the soap has any positive health effect by preventing disease. More...

2.4 Is triclosan used in food production?

Triclosan has been added to the surface of cutting boards, food storage containers and other kitchen utensils to stop microorganisms growing on them. However, since March 2010, triclosan cannot be used in the EU in food contact materials or as an additive in plastics that come into contact with food.

Triclosan is not used as a disinfectant in food and feed production and it is not approved as a food preservative in Europe. Triclosan is used in biocidal products for veterinary hygiene but it is banned as a preservative in animal food.

Triclosan has been identified as a contaminant in drinking water in some parts of the world. More...


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