Triclosan can be found in cosmetics, natural health products, and non-prescription drugs. Learn about this chemical and if it's safe for Canadians.

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What is triclosan?

Triclosan is a chemical used as a preservative as well as to kill or remove bacteria in various household products. Products include:

  • soaps
  • lotions
  • fragrances
  • deodorants
  • skin cleaners
  • eye and face make-up
  • natural health products
  • body washes, shower gels and shampoos
  • non-prescription drugs, such as toothpaste, mouthwash and hand sanitizer

In these products, it's used to:

  • prevent odours
  • kill or remove bacteria
  • stop the growth of bacteria, fungus and mildew

It's also used in:

  • cosmetics as a preservative
  • toothpaste and mouthwash to reduce and prevent plaque and gingivitis

Is triclosan safe?

Triclosan doesn't pose a health risk to Canadians at current levels of exposure. However, it poses a risk to the environment.

Products like toothpaste and soap are washed down the drain. The amount of triclosan that's released can pose a risk to organisms in the water like plants and fish.

There's no evidence that using products with triclosan will cause antimicrobial resistance.

We've assessed triclosan and the potential risk to Canadians. This scientific evaluation is called a chemical risk assessment.

Canada regulates cosmetics, non-prescription drugs and natural health products. The maximum amount of triclosan allowed in these products sold in Canada is:

  • 0.03% in mouthwashes
  • 1.0% in non-prescription drugs
  • 0.3% in cosmetics and natural health products

How can you minimize your exposure to triclosan?

You can protect yourself with the following tips.

  • Read and follow the product instructions.
    • For example, directions for mouthwashes that contain triclosan say to avoid swallowing the product.
  • Practise correct hand washing techniques using soap and water.
    • In most cases, antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe, effective hand hygiene.
  • Read the label if you want to avoid triclosan.
    • The label on cosmetics, over-the-counter drugs and natural health products must indicate if they contain triclosan.

You can find information on recalls and safety alerts. You can also report an unsafe product by contacting a regional product safety office.

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