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Being too clean could be hazardous to your health

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Sci/Tech

Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial agent, which is classified as a Class III drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As the result of its broad-spectrum bacteria-fighting ability, it has found increasingly popular use in personal care products, cosmetics, antimicrobial creams, acne treatments, lotions, hand soaps, and dish soaps. It is also used as an additive to plastics, polymers, textile, and implantable medical devices. Triclosan is most often used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces and is sometimes used to preserve a product, including food.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has been urging the FDA to closely monitor and possibly regulate the home use of antimicrobials such as triclosan. The increasing popularity of antimicrobial products has preceded the study of the possible harmful affects of the use of such products.

Past research has shown that chloroform is produced when free chlorine reacts with organic material. "This is the first work that we know of that suggests that consumer products, such as antimicrobial soap, can produce significant quantities of chloroform," said Vikesland. The implications of these reactions to consumers are not known. "There are numerous potential exposure pathways that can be envisioned, such as inhalation and skin exposure, when using antimicrobial soaps to wash dishes or when taking a shower. There is also risk of exposure when using triclosan laden moisturizers as they may also react with chlorine in the water," said Vikesland.

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