Chlorinated Water + Antibacterial Dish Detergent= Poison
By Amy Todisco
Thought washing dishes was a fairly benign activity? Apparently not. Research hows it’s more dangerous than you thought. If you have chlorinated water (which many do) and you use an antibacterial dish soap, you are being exposed to significant quantities of CHLOROFORM. Holy smokes!
What’s going on?
When the Triclosan in antibacterial dish soap is mixed with chlorinated water, it creates highly toxic chloroform. Triclosan is a common antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral ingredient found in toothpastes, acne creams, deodorants, lotions, hand soaps, kitchen tiles, children’s toys, cutting boards, etc. Inhaling chloroform and absorbing it through your skin is not good for your health.
A follow up study was conducted to determine how much chloroform was created in normal dishwashing conditions. They used the Soap and Detergent Manufacturer’s recommendations for water temperature. Given that chloroform, other trihalomethanes (THM’s), and disinfection by-products are already in water, adding the extra 50 parts per billion (ppb) from the antibacterial/chlorine combination is not good. This means that you could easily go above the EPA’s limit of 80 ppb for THM’s just by washing your dishes. How many times per day are you exposed to this chemical cocktail? When doing the dishes, taking a bath or shower, washing your hands, A LOT. Studies show that the levels of THM’s in people’s blood increase when they shower. The same is true if you use any antibacterial products before you jump into a chlorinated pool.
What’s so bad about chloroform?
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says, “Exposure to chloroform can occur when breathing contaminated air or when drinking or touching the substance containing it. Breathing chloroform can cause dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. Breathing chloroform or ingesting chloroform over long periods of time may damage your liver and kidneys. It can cause sores if large amounts touch your skin.” Have you experienced any of these symptoms while doing dishes?
Why is this such big news?
Apparently the reaction of Triclosan with free chlorine is well known (you’ve heard the warnings about not mixing bleach with any other cleaning products, no doubt). Researcher, Peter Vikesland (of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) said that this research was “important for demonstrating that the chlorination of triclosan can occur under environmentally relevant conditions”. In other words, the fact that you can create toxic chloroform by mixing antibacterial dish soap with chlorinated water is pretty scary.
What to do?
*If you don’t have your own clean well water, get a tap water and shower filter to get rid of the chlorine and other toxic substances.
* Stop using all antibacterial products, especially dish and hand soaps, and toothpaste. Even natural cellulose sponges now have an antibacterial in it. Buy the ones that do not say “resists odors”, if you can find them. If not, ask the store where you shop for groceries if they can order them.
As you’ve read in other articles I’ve written (and elsewhere), soap and water are very effective at cleaning away bacteria.
*Wear rubber gloves while doing the dishes or cleaning.
* Use natural and organic products. (Dish soaps, hair care, laundry soap, etc.)
©Amy Todisco. 2012. All Rights Reserved.