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A germ-free Mississippi? Antibacterial products and our water

By Kim LaBo, Healthy Legacy Organizer at Clean Water Fund Minnesota.

Mississippi River_Mpls_WebEvidently the Mississippi River is now germ free thanks to thousands of Minnesotans washing antibacterial soaps, toothpaste and cleaners down the drain.

At least that is the result you would expect given the level of chemicals in the river from antibacterial products has increased more than 200% since the 1960’s.

Instead, we have carcinogenic dioxins being formed when antibacterial chemicals like triclosan break down in our water. When exposed to chlorine and sunlight during the wastewater treatment process triclosan turns into several dioxins (DCDD, TriCDD and TCDD) that threaten the health of our water and the fish, frogs and other aquatic life in the Mississippi.

For decades, marketing companies have successfully convinced the American public we must use antibacterial hand soap and cleaners to kill harmful germs or our households will be besieged by illness. More recently the antibacterial craze has spread to deodorant, toothpaste and even clothing.

As a result of this marketing the sale of antibacterial products has skyrocketed and more Americans are using antibacterial products than ever before. Walk down the aisle of your local drugstore and you will find at least half of the hand soaps contain the antibacterial chemical triclosan.

Unfortunately the triclosan craze is just craziness. Proper hand washing is more effective in preventing illnesses and infections than antibacterial soap

Our families are not safer because they use antibacterial products.  Instead we are exposing our children and family members to a chemical that can harm our health and we are polluting our water.

So the next time you are walking down the drugstore aisle, read the label on your soap and other products. Look for products that don’t contain Triclosan for the sake of our health and water.

Photo courtesy of kla4067 via flickr


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