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
Credit: Sanja Gjenero
Triclosan is effective
against many different
bacteria as well as some
protozoa it is
widely used as an
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.
2.1 How is triclosan used in cosmetics?
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
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.
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
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.
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
chopping boards, children’s toys, carpets.
Triclosan and other
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
The benefits of using anti-microbial soap are still unclear,
some studies suggest that soaps containing less than 1%
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
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
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
Europe. Triclosan is used in
biocidal products for
veterinary hygiene but it is banned as a preservative in animal
Triclosan has been
identified as a contaminant in drinking water in some parts of