didesign021/ShutterstockYour medicine cabinet can prove to be a gauntlet of adverse health side effects. For women, the biggest risk to your health might be in that bottle of talcum powder; for men, the biggest risk to your fertility could very well be in your shaving cream. When chemicals are found to negatively impact your health, they tend to be removed from commercially available products, but sometimes, they stick around because the supposed links may be disputed.
In 2016, federal authorities deemed triclosan, a popular compound used in antibacterial soaps and gels, to be unsafe for long-term use, and not all that effective in preventing the spread of infection than regular ol’ soap and water (really, here’s why regular soap and water does just the trick over antibacterial gel). The chemical was found to be linked to gut health disruption, hormone problems, and irregular bacteria resistance and was summarily removed from the aforementioned antibacterial soaps and gels.
However, triclosan still remained present in certain kinds of toothpaste, because it was deemed that the exposure would be minimal. But a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that the amount of triclosan which people are exposed to when brushing may be much higher than originally thought. The research tested 22 best-selling toothbrushes, using a variety of different toothpaste, six of which had triclosan as an ingredient.
The study involved a simulated brushing schedule of two brushing sessions each day for three months, with a duration of two minutes per cleaning. The study found that a third of the toothbrushes developed a residual triclosan build up on the brush over the span of the study, multiplying the hypothetical triclosan exposure that a person would encounter by seven to 12.5 times. Even in instances when a toothbrush switched from a triclosan toothpaste to a non-triclosan toothpaste, the triclosan remained present on the toothbrush for up to two weeks after the switch was made.
Currently, Colgate is the only company which makes still makes toothpaste containing triclosan. In response to the study, Colgate gave this comment to TIME:
“Colgate Total toothpaste is uniquely formulated with 0.3% of the antibacterial ingredient triclosan to fight harmful plaque germs that can cause gingivitis, and it is approved as effective and safe by the US FDA. Regarding this study, the authors state that they do not consider oral exposure to triclosan toothpaste to be a health risk, and their study shows that triclosan that might be released from a toothbrush head is a fraction of the standard dose coming from a single use of triclosan-containing toothpaste and far less than the 3.0 mg established as safe for triclosan toothpaste.”
Researchers from the study recommended that people avoid using toothpaste with triclosan as an ingredient and to replace their toothbrush if they had been using a triclosan toothbrush.