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Green Back to School: Avoid the Antibacterial, Triclosan Hand Soap

Kids washing hands.

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My kids started school last week.  Schools can be toxic places. From pesticides and herbicides used outdoors to harsh chemical cleaning products used inside, our children are exposed to many toxins while getting an education.

One area of concern that you can easily change is the soap used for hand washing. Schools promote hand washing to keep children healthy.  Unfortunately, the soap provided is often anti-bacterial containing harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and triclosan.  My son can’t handle either of these products on his skin.  I think of his skin sensitivity as the canary in the mine for the rest of us.  

Avoiding the topic of how antibacterial soaps actually weaken our immune system and make us more sick, triclosan is the real concern, more than SLS. Beyond Pesticides explains:

The chemical most commonly seen in hand soaps and sanitizers is an antibacterial chemical called triclo- san. When used in fabrics and plastic, it is known as Microban. The chemical is associated with skin irrita- tion or eczema, has been shown to interfere with the body’s hormones, and has been linked to an increased risk of developing respiratory illness, or asthma, and cancer, as well as subtle effects on learning ability. Because the chemical goes down the drain, it wreaks havoc with the environment, converting to highly toxic dioxins and contaminating waterways and wildlife…

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel (2005) concluded that triclosan soaps are no more effective than washing hands with soap and water.

What can you do?  If your school will not respond to your request to change the soap in the classroom and bathrooms, make a donation of safer hand soap.  It is not only important for your own children, but all the other children will benefit as well.

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  1. Plummy Mummy says:

    It’s a nightmare. I dread when my daughter goes back to nursery as the eczema in her hands flares up so badly. I try to also warn her to stay away from shaving foam that’s often used for play and from the sandbox. Mind you, in her first nursery, she was often found playing in the loo water – they said “often” and I changed nurseries.


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