This just gets worse and worse. In light of the current FDA investigation into the triclosan content of non-specialty toothpaste brands, public health experts and environmental groups have pointed out that this isn't the only ingredient to be worried about. Among other things, some researchers suggest that triclosan can create small amounts of chloroform when mixed with water.
That's a pretty wild idea. It's already bad enough that triclosan is a pesticide, but adding chloroform to the mix just makes things worse.
No wonder so many people stick to the specialty varieties! After all, these toothpaste brands ditch the pesticides, dyes, irritants, synthetic chemicals and allergens. What remains is an organic, all-natural paste that kills bad breath without risking your health or safety.
So what's the deal with triclosan? Well, currently the FDA is investigating this chemical's effects on human health. The substance acts as an antibiotic in common toothpastes, but can also be used as a pesticide. Researchers' concerns include (a) the likelihood that triclosan disrupts hormone production, and (b) the risk that using so much of this compound will help common microbes become more antibiotic-resistant.
And that's not all. According to Nichelle Harriott of the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides, triclosan forms chloroform when it comes into contact with chlorine, which is present in minute amounts in public water systems.
"That waves a lot of red flags," she told Public Radio International. "If you're brushing your teeth, and a lot of toothpaste contains triclosan, are you being exposed to chloroform through the chlorine in the tap water?"
If the word "chloroform" sounds familiar, you may recognize it as the colorless liquid that was once soaked into rags and used to anesthetize patients before surgery.
These days, besides being prohibited for use during operations, the chemical has been shown to be carcinogenic when ingested by animals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Triclosan and chloroform are just two serious substances associated with shoddy toothpastes. Others include FD&C Blue No. 2 dye (used to color jeans), sodium lauryl sulfate (a detergent) and benzalkonium chloride (an allergen).
So, the next time you're in need of a quality toothpaste brand, stick to the specialty variety, which are all-natural and irritant-free!