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No Soap in My Mouth, Please!

I subscribe to a bunch of e-newsletters. One of my must-reads is from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). I got my latest email newsletter yesterday and opened it right up. The first item was a link to the organization’s Healthy Home Checklist, a two-page PDF that details all the actions you can take to make sure reducing your toxic risk. I went through it pretty quickly. “Get rid of bottled water. Doing that. Get rid of plastic for storage. Did that. Avoid canned foods because of BPA. Check. Avoid air fresheners. Got it. Pick a toothpaste without triclosan. Wait a second…”

I had to read it twice. Since when is triclosan, an antibacterial that’s been linked to a host of environmental and health problems, turning up in toothpaste? I was even more aghast when I saw that the Academy of General Dentistry today released a press announcement saying that it supports the use of triclosan in toothpaste. That a recent study found that toothpaste with triclosan is better than regular toothpaste at killing bacteria found in the mouth. That must be a mistake, right? Give me a break. What about last week’s news out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that recent studies raise “valid concerns” about the safety of triclosan? (Scariest part of all this: triclosan is in so many products that it is found in our urine. Three out of four of us are peeing triclosan on a daily basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

I wrote a whole missive about triclosan back in September. About how the EPA classifies it as a pesticide! About how it’s creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. About how it never breaks down — even after going through a sewage treatment plant. (And after re-reading that post I realized that yes, I did know that it was in toothpaste. I guess it just never registered.) Wow. Sigh. Wow. That really sucks. How can manufacturers do that to us? We’re putting a pesticide, a dangerous-to-the-earth chemical in our mouths. It makes me sad.

I went to CVS last night. Believe it or not I needed toothpaste. I looked around. I read the back of tubes and boxes. I didn’t see anything mainstream that didn’t have any chemicals. (The kids use Toms of Maine. I usually do, too, but I didn’t have time to go to Trader Joe’s last night.) So I bought a lesser-of-all-evils brand — Colgate actually has an option that only scores a 3 out of 10 on the EWG’s Skin Deep database. I’ll buy my usual brand the next time I get to TJs or Whole Foods. And in the meantime: Shame on you, traditional manufacturers. Isn’t it about time you started doing more for our environment? And our bodies?

What’s in your toothpaste? Do you know? How about your contact lens solution, your moisturizer? Your lipstick? Maybe it’s time you found out? And as for the Academy of General Dentistry: I’ve got an email out to the organization. I want to hear their reasoning behind their silly suggestion.

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