Watch Out for that Liquid Soap…

September 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’ve gotten involved with Pax Christi New York Metro, the local chapter of Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace association. Can’t go wrong working for peace is how I think about it.

We’re getting ready for the annual New York Metro Pax Christi assembly, on October 16. The theme is water and war, so I’ve been reading up on the world water crisis and its connection with armed conflict. In the process, as I mentioned a while back, I read a truly scary book by a journalist named Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars, in which he predicts, among other things, a nuclear war between India and Pakistan over the diminishing water in the rivers that run through both of them thanks to the melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

As I’ve been reading around, however, I came across something a little closer to home. Seems that in recent years manufacturers have been putting an antibacterial substance called triclosan into a lot of household products, claiming it kills bacteria better than regular soap does. Trouble is, while research shows that claim isn’t true, triclosan does, in fact, do a lot of harm in other ways, for example, cutting down on human resistance to bacterial infections, poisoning the groundwater, and messing up hormonal balance in humans. You’d think the Food and Drug Administration would have alerted us to this; I guess they’re preoccupied with salmonella.

One group that does offer the public a heads-up on triclosan is Food and Water Watch, an activist organization with a very handy webpage. As a result of reading their material, I discovered that the half-gallon of Dial anti-bacterial liquid soap in my bathroom closet, purchased to fight off swine flu last winter, is full of it, as is the Colgate Total that I was brushing my teeth with three times a day. I even learned from Food and Water Watch that this stuff is so harmful that to dispose of it, I’m supposed to take it to a designated drop-off spot for dangerous chemicals. Zounds.

The Food and Water Watch fact sheet describes the problems with triclosan in more detail, and lists other products that contain it as well; you’ll be surprised by all the common household products that are on the list. Stopping  India and Pakistan from going to war over dwindling water supplies may be beyond our ken, but at least we can stop letting Dial and Colgate poison us.

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