Hazardous chemicals in soaps, sanitizers?

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New research suggesting that triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in common household soaps and detergents, may cause adverse health effects has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to take a closer look at the chemical, the Washington Post reports. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, triclosan is so common that it is found in the urine of three quarters of the population, yet recent studies indicate that it may interfere with the body’s endocrine system—our glands and hormones—and potentially play a role in creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the Post reports.

Meanwhile, a study from Yale researchers published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology also suggests that, once in the water supply, chemicals found in common soaps, shampoos and other household cleaners could potentially contribute to the formation of a cancer-causing compound. William Mitch, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale and an author of the recent study, emphasized in an email that, future research is necessary and his initial work only suggests the possibility that derivatives of common household products may lead to the formation of the harmful compound N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) which has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats and is considered a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet, however preliminary, these findings and those highlighted in the Washington Post story add to growing concerns about our routine daily exposure to toxins in common products—as my colleagues at TIME recently reported, studies suggest that exposure to everything from asbestos to Bisphenol A (BPA) can have serious adverse health effects.

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