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Danielle+FINAL - 1 Introduction What is Triclosan Triclosan...

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Introduction What is Triclosan? Triclosan, also known as Microban, Irgasan, and 2,4,4'-trichloro-2'-hydroxydiphenyl ether, is an antimicrobial chemical produced thirty-five years ago by Ciba Specialty Chemical Products. It binds within active fatty acid synthesis sites to the enzyme ENR, or enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase enzyme, which facilitates synthesis. When Triclosan binds to ENR, it prevents bacteria from undergoing synthesis, so that the bacteria cannot produce cell membrane or reproduce, meaning that the bacteria will die (Schweizer, 2001). It can be internalized in an organism through skin and mouth orifices because it is fat and water insoluble and does not disintegrate (Foran et al., 2000). Despite this, companies and manufacturers commonly include Triclosan as a main ingredient in antibacterial products because it effectively kills bacteria (Menoutis & Parisi, 2000). Triclosan was initially used in hospitals for sanitation in hospital scrubs, but has since been used universally. As seen from Table 1 , large amount of products contains Triclosan, and the number is only increasing: “A recent report estimated that between 1992 and 1999 over 700 consumer products with antibacterial properties, the vast majority of them containing Triclosan, have entered the market” (Schweizer, 2001, page 2). And since 2000, “about 1,500 new antibacterial consumer products containing [Triclosan] have been introduced into the marketplace” (Los Angeles Times, 2010, page 1). Some other popular Triclosan products include deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, hand soaps, lotions, shower gels, fabrics, clothes, children’s toys and plastics (Jones, 2000). Table 1: Source: BeyondPesticides/National Coalition Against Misuse of Pesticides, Volume 24, Issue 3, 2004. 1
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Why is Triclosan harmful? Generally, people believe that because Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical, it would not be the cause of many environmental and health issues. However, the consequences from using Triclosan are quite extreme and should not be taken lightly. Triclosan is harmful because: It increases microbial resistance to antibiotics Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has increased drastically, and should concern the ten hospitals and thirty-eight pharmacies located in Jamaica. A study conducted by Schweizer (2001) determined that E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, M. smegmatis, M. tuberculosis, P. putida and A. xylosoxidans resisted antibiotics after being exposed to Triclosan for only four years. As reported in Table 2 , there are bacteria like P. putida that utilize enzymes to degrade Triclosan, and bacteria like P. aeruginosa that use efflux pumps to transport antibiotics outside of their cells (Schweizer, 2001). Since bacteria are resisting the most powerful medicines, illnesses are intensifying and are more difficult to treat. This poses a threat to hospitals that treat illnesses and overuse Triclosan products, and to pharmacies selling Triclosan products in the same vicinity as antibiotics.
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