Is triclosan harming your microbiome?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 348-349
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2698

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text


Antibacterial soaps were originally used only in hospitals, but since the 1990s, their use has expanded into households. Antimicrobial chemicals are now found in many soaps, wipes, hand gels, cutting boards, detergents, cosmetics, and toothpastes, as well as toys and plastics. One of the most common antibacterials, triclosan [5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol], is found in ∼75% of antibacterial soaps (1). In 2008, it was detected in ∼75% of urine samples in the United States (2). There are concerns that triclosan use contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance and may adversely affect human health. Partial bans exist in the European Union and the U.S. state of Minnesota (3, 4). However, recent studies exploring triclosan's effect on the microbiome have given conflicting results.