Environment Technology

Environment Technology

Now Pesticides in your Toothpaste

Posted by admin on September 28, 2012 in Environment Protection with 5 Comments


Pesticides, especially triclosan, which is almost a must in every toothpaste or soap now a days, can prove worse than the worst ever thought of scenario arising from bio warfare outbreaks. Emergence of super virus or super bacteria which will be resistant to most of antibiotics with the potential to wipe out world’s most of population can presumptively emerge from uncontrolled use of toiletries including soaps and tooth pastes containing antibacterial triclosan. The controversial chemical which was first introduced for floor mopping solutions in the hospital wards was introduced in most of the toothpastes, soaps, deodorants. Toothpaste manufactures started the advertisement campaign “fights tooth decay up to 12 hours after tooth brushing”. Nobody worth his name in toothpaste industry wanted to remain out of this game, result was that almost everyone by now has introduced triclosan in toothpastes. Environmental activists all over the world have now raised the issue of safety aspect of triclosan, but unfortunately in India so far no body has raised this question. Not all blame can be put on vested interests, ignorance and lack of sensitivity to the public cause in general is equally blame worthy. Environment protection agency of USA has put triclosan in the category of pesticides. In India consumers are not informed by the manufacturer that the product contains triclosan. Now clear cut evidence is emerging from research laboratories all over the world that triclosan can produce chloroform when it interacts with chlorinated tap water. The potential of chloroform to cause cancer is well documented. Exposure to ultra violet light (UV light) can add to this process the production of stable highly toxic dioxins with very high potential to cause cancer. These chemicals can cause not only cancer but also other effects like weakening of immune system, decreased fertility, altered hormonal and congenital birth defects. Triclosan is such a widely misused molecule by now that it has started showing up in human breast milk samples. A Swedish study conducted in 2002 confirmed this fact. Products containing Triclosan may be of some values in limited specified hospital settings but their use in normal healthy households have not shown any added advantage. In fact American Medical Association recommends avoiding the use of such chemicals in consumer products. Tons and Tons of Triclosan has gone down the drains. It is not entirely harmless. Bacteria will become resistant to it one day with devastating consequences for the whole of mankind. These bacteria that survive Triclosan do so with “Multidrug efflux pumps”. A multi drug efflux pump is a system designed by bacteria to shuttle various nasty compounds (including anti biotic) outside the cell. Freighting the most notorious bacteria in hospital acquired infections “staphylococus” is getting resistant to Triclosan. Futuristic terrorists will not be Mujahids Wielding Kalishanakovs but multidrug resitant bacteria and viruses, that we are helping evolve, Wittingly or unwittingly every common man is contributing for evolution of these future ‘terrorists’, the multidrug resistant bacteria. Even relatively small quantities of dioxins can have devastating effects. According to environmental protection agency of United States of America, Triclosan “Could be” and is “suspected to be” contaminated with dioxins. Dioxins can be found in Triclosan as impurities formed in the course of industrial production. Research workers when added Triclosan to river water and exposed it to ultraviolet light found that a significant portion of triclosan converted to Dioxins. Fears are genuine that ultraviolet light from the sun can convert Triclosan into cancer causing dioxins. In a country like India where untreated sewage is finding its way into rivers and lakes, this is a clear possibility. Urgent studies are required and the use of Triclosan should be stopped with immediate effect. Even in western developed countries where the population pressure is very low, the presence of Triclosan has started showing up in Ecological System. Whenever the toothpaste manufacturers sales executives are questioned on the safety aspect of Triclosan, the standard answer is that Triclosan in very high concentrations can prove carcinogenic not other wise but the facts are otherwise. Children often ingest lots of toothpastes! Yes. Chlorination of tap water in India is not standardized. Worse of all, the dioxins produced in the process are so stable that it takes decades to get rid off them, via human milk ! again Yes. So these dioxins can accumulate in body system over a period of time and the next generation gets quite a bit of them in natural transfer. Production of chloroform and dioxins may also be a problem in swimming pools where high concentration of chlorine can react to Triclosan residues on people’s skin. Soaps, toiletries, toothpastes containing Triclosan or other anti bacterial don’t promote good health. In fact it has been found that there is an increase in the frequency of allergies, asthma and Eczema in persons who have been raised in more sterile and hygienic environment. This became popular by known as a ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’. Similarly no definite correlation has been found between clean mouths and disease free mouths. Reports on the initiation of cancer in the mouth suggest that if a person is a smoker he stands 6 times more chances of cancer and chronic alcoholics are again 6 times as prone as smokers for cancer. But if a person is a smoker as well as chronic alcoholic, this person is 15 times more at risk for cancer. Now well imagine if the person is using a toothpaste containing Triclosan, uses tap water for brushing and the toothpaste contains. None of the waste water treatment plans in India or abroad is capable of removing Triclosan from water. Large quantities of Triclosan are being continuously discharged into the local water ways. In one United States of America Geological Survey study of 95 organic waste water contaminants in US streams triclosan was the most frequently found compounds and in some of the highest concentration observed. Fortunately our consumption levels of triclosan containing toiletries and soaps is less as compared to developed countries. Toothpaste are the only major contributors for this. But with population load many fold that of America, we are much more vulnerable to catastrophic accumulation of these toxic chemicals. Triclosan has proved highly toxic to algae. Because algae are the first step producers in aquatic ecosystem, researchers think that high levels of Triclosan discharged into the environment may destroy the balance of aquatic ecosystem. Other than developed countries, China has also started investigating the safety of such products. Marla Cone from Los Angles times writes in criticism of the US agencies that every year 200 tons of two compounds Triclosan and Triclo carbon are applied to agricultural lands throughout that country. Triclosan breaks down slowly which mean it accumulates in soil and perhaps water. This chemical is building up in environment. It has been in the environment for decades and every year we are loading tons in the environment. This is what we are going to hand over to our next generations. Apart from breast milk triclosan has also been found in fish in steams of Europe. We have not carried out proper surveys so far. Sampling from human milk may one day discourage breast feeding. Minute amounts of Triclosan that are found in the majority of America’s streams and rivers can be enough to disrupt thyroid function in frogs and perhaps also in humans. Frogs are very sensitive to thyroid hormone. Triclosan has a chemical structure similar to thyroid hormones. Frogs were chosen as a study model to study effect of Triclosan because frogs are particularly sensitive and effects show up in metamorphosis. Not only that Triclosan affects frogs it also has implication for people. People have to have the thyroid hormones in order to be healthy and Triclosan effects how the thyroid hormone works. Brain is very sensitive organ for thyroid hormone action and is very dependent on proper levels of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is exact same chemical in frogs compared to humans. One drop of Triclosan in say as many as 300 Olympic Swimming Pools is enough for toxic effects !

Triclosan was considered absolutely safe until some times back when a New York Tech University report stated that Triclosan reacts with free chlorine in tap water to produce chloroform and lesser amounts of other compounds like 2,4-di-chlorophenol. These intermediates convert to dioxins upon exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Triclosan is chemically similar to dioxin class of compounds. Its production leads to small amounts of residual polychlorinated dioxins and polychlorinated furans which are contained in the products that we are using. The chemical and molecular structure of these compounds are similar to most toxic chemicals on earth, relating to dioxins and PCBs. Environmental protection agency of USA gives Triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk.

Triclosan belongs to chlorophenol class of chemicals which is suspected to cause cancer in humans. Even in small amounts, phenols can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, convulsions, coma and death even. In addition to that chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides can be stored in body fat, sometimes accumulating to toxic levels. Triclosan is a registered pesticide with the US Environment Protection agency. Long term exposure to repeated use of many a pesticide products can damage the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, suppress the immune system, hormonal disruption, paralysis, sterility and brain hemorrhage. Dioxin, PCBs, chlorophenols and many pesticides are categorized as persistent organic pollutants (POP). In other words, they persist in the environment and accumulate to higher and higher concentration with each step up the food chain. Virtually every creature on earth has a measured amount of these pollutants in the body fat. Once absorbed into the fat cells, it is nearly impossible to eliminate these compounds. Triclosan an essential ingredient in your tooth pastes is among this class of chemicals. Humans are at the top of the food chain. Vultures share this top position with us and they are already on their way out. Are we the next ones to go ? picture is scary but realism goes down hard.

Triclosan is a diphenyl ether (bis-phenol) derivative, known as either 2,4,4’- Trichloro-2’-hydroxydiphenyl ether or 5-Chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol. It is related in structure to a number of bis-phenyl polychlorinated and bis-phenyl chlorophenyl compounds. Due principally to the synthesis chemistry of polychloro diphenyl ethers and phenoxy phenols there is the potential for the formation of small amounts of unwanted trace by-products which are of very serious concern.

Since triclosan is by its chemical structure a polychloro phenoxy phenol it is possible that several polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (dioxins) and polychloro–dibenzofurans (dibenzofurans) can be found in varying low level amounts, as synthesis, impurities in triclosan. Their relative concentrations as impurities can vary from batch to batch. This raises concerns because of the toxicity of dioxins and dibenzofurans.

The toxicity of dioxins and dibenzofurans varies with the position and number of chlorine atoms attached to the aromatic rings. In general, their toxicity increases with increasing chlorine substitution. Those dioxins and dibenzofurans that have chlorine atoms at the 2,3 and 7 positions are particularly toxic. Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and tetrachlorodibenzofuran, which have chlorine atoms at the 2,3,7, and 8 positions, are considered the most toxic of the dioxins and dibenzofurans (4), with 2,3,7 and 8 positions, are considered the most toxic of the dioxins and dibenzofurans (4), with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin referred to as one of the most toxic substances known.

As a result of the potential for the formation of dioxins and dibenzofurans as unwanted low level trace by-products the United States Pharma Copia, in Pharmacopeial Form, Volume 22, Number 3, Pharmacopeial Reviews and subsequently in Pharmacopeial Form, Volume 23, Number 5 has proposed a new monograph for the specific testing of triclosan. This proposed monograph details the assay and testing of USP triclosan. In addition to setting product specification standards and procedures to assay the purity and physical identity of USP triclosan, it also defines the limits and methods of testing for unwanted trace by -products which may be present. If the manufacturers are honest then the tests for unwanted by products should be conducted at the accredited laboratories for (1) Limit of 4-Chlorophenol and 2,4-Dichloro-phenol, (2) Limit of Triclosan Related Compound A (1,3,7-trichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin), Triclosan Related Compound B (2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin), 2,8-Dichlorodibenzofuran, and 2,4,8-Trichlorodibenzo-furan, and (3) Limit of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and 2,3,7,8-Tetrachloro-dibenzofuran.

Laboratories capable of analyzing triclosan under cGMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) for dioxins and dibenzofurans employing isotope dilution high resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (HRGC/MS), are required for the proposed testing.

Dr. Capt. Pardeep Kumar Sharma

Oral & Maxillo Facial Surgeon

E-mail : omfspardeep@yahoo.com.

(M) : 9888456296

Author of this Article is presently working as Medical Officer (Dental) at Civil Hospital Ludhiana

Pardeep Kumar Sharma

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  1. SomeoneSeptember 28, 2012 - 7:09 am #1

    Can I wash apples with toothpaste?
    I’ve recently discovered that toothpaste is great for removing wax, and I’d like to use it for that purpose on apples. It takes too long to scratch the wax off, and you can never really get it all off. (If you didn’t know of the wax layer on apples or you don’t believe me, take a knife and scratch at the skin of one. There probably isn’t a layer on locally grown organic apples, but those are usually more expensive so my parents won’t get those. :F) I also think it would remove all the chemicals and pesticides, or would this be a paradox and instead I’d just be adding the toothpaste chemicals to what I am eating? I’d wash the apple really well afterward, and I expect it to be virtually the same as after you brush your teeth. Thanks!

  2. musicimprovedmeSeptember 28, 2012 - 12:11 pm #2

    Good thinking. I hope that works for you. You can also make a vegetable and fruit wash with some Dr. Bronners liquid soap or liquid dishwashing liquid (NOT dishwasher detergent). Use about 2 teaspoons in a quart sprayer, then half and half vinegar and water. Spray, wash, rinse, eat.

    The rinsing is important!! I’m not suggesting you eat sprayed on soap.
    References :

  3. margie shaylSeptember 28, 2012 - 12:13 pm #3

    chemicals and pesticides sink into the fruit, so you cant get them off, i suggest grow your own or buy organic if you’re concerned about pesticides. the wax will not hurt you, you could use toothpast to get it off, but that would be fairly pointless and labor intensive.
    [EDIT] btw, the wax is used to make the fruit look more shiny and attractive, it has nothing to do with pestacides
    References :

  4. LaurenSeptember 28, 2012 - 12:15 pm #4

    My friend recently discovered a bunch of heavily waxed apples, and it is pretty disgusting. I would assume that it would remove the wax but it would probally leave a minty taste to the skin of the apple.
    References :

  5. DanaSeptember 28, 2012 - 12:17 pm #5

    I don’t see why not. I’ve never really heard of that, but maybe I’ll try it sometime. The wax on apples is usually made from shellac- which comes from a secretion of the lac bug found in India and Pakistan….so it’s probably a good thing to wash it off in some way if that’s something you’re concerned about.

    This site: http://www.usapple.org/consumers/wax.cfm recommends scrubbing with a vegetable brush in lukewarm water.
    References :

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