Triclosan Essay

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The Danger of Antimicrobial Usage: Triclosan Essay

Weren’t anti-microbial agents considered safe for humans to use and not suppose to be harmful in nature? In recent studies, triclosan, an antibacterial compound is shown to be a harmful agent to humans rather than being helpful in keeping bacterial illnesses away. Presently, antimicrobials agents triclosan and triclocarban are examples of widely used antimicrobials agents in personal care products in United States and many other countries worldwide1. Triclosan is a 2,4,4- tricholoro-2-hydroxydiphenyl ether and triclocarbon is a 3,4,4 – trichlorocarbanilide organic compound. One of the more common antimicrobial agents used in many househould products each year, triclosan is a synthetic, lipid-soluble, broad spectrum anti-microbial agent that was first used in health care setting in 1972 and then used in the toothpaste making industry in 1985 in Europe 2. From then onwards, triclosan has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in personal care products, household items, and in hospital settings to control the spread of bacterial illnesses in medical devices 2. In addition to FDA approving the use of triclosan as an over the counter drug for use in personal items and household items, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also regulates triclosan as an anti-microbial agent for the protection of polymers and plastics. However, recent studies prove that anti-microbial agent triclosan is turning to be more harmful than beneficial to humans even though it is effective with high efficacy levels in its mechanisms of action by inhibiting bacterial growth. The word “anti-microbial” has an automatic positive connotation and can also be seen as a misnomer because of the negative effects it has on the human population rather than promoting good health.

In the United States, studies prove that triclosan is known for its high anti-microbial effectiveness and is readily available over the counter drug for personal use approved by FDA and EPA. The FDA regulates triclosan by making it readily available drug for use in hand soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, facial tissues, and antiseptics for wound care and medical devices. In addition, not knowing its possible harmful effects, FDA approved the usage of 0.3% triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste to prevent gingivitis tooth infection and cavities in humans in 1997 2 . Furthermore, triclosan is also used to control the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in hospitals and in surgical clothing and sutures to prevent bacterial colonization of the surgical wounds2. Because of the usage of triclosan in the household and care products, human population can get direct exposure to triclosan through ingestion or dermal contact, spread in the environment which can lead to dangerous and harmful environment. Studies show triclosan deposits are found in finished drinking water, surface water, wastewater, wild fish, and in environmental sediments in some of the states around the United States2.

The studies proved that mechanisms of action of triclosan are efficient in inhibiting the growth of bacteria by intercalating into the bacterial membranes and disrupting the membrane activities of the bacteria. In addition, triclosan inhibits the enoyl-reductase of type II fatty acid synthase involving in the bacteria’s lipid biosynthesis2. Triclosan is known to be more effective against gram-positive bacteria than gram-negative bacteria with being highly effective against Staphylococcus aureus. Furthermore, triclosan acts as a bacteriostatic at lower doses in any substance and bactericidal at higher doses. When acting as a bactericidal, triclosan acts against many different targets including the cell membrane and can act as an anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-malarial2. According to Fang et al., the mechanisms of actions of triclosan in...
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