Anti-microbial chemical Triclosan in soaps can cause neurotoxic effects: Study

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on December 15, 2020

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-Hyderabad) have revealed in a study that triclosan, an anti-microbial chemical used in soaps and in dental products, can cause neurotoxic effects even at amounts 500 times lower than the approved limit. The IIT-H’s research findings were recently published in a scientific journal Chemosphere published from the United Kingdom.

Companies use anti-microbial chemicals to increase the shelf life of consumer products. These chemicals such as triclosan, can stop the growth of unwanted micro-organisms, which may degrade the product and decrease its shelf life.

Triclosan is one such chemical regularly added in the manufacturing of consumer products such as soap, toothpaste and deodorants. A team of researchers studied the effects of triclosan on the nervous system of zebrafish embryos.

“Zebrafish is an animal equivalent of humans, results from which have been well extrapolated to humans,” said Anamika Bhargava, Associate Professor at the Department of Biotechnology, IIT-H.

“The study reveals that triclosan in minute amounts cannot only affect the genes and enzymes involved in neurotransmission, but it can also damage the neurons. Overall this can affect the motor function of an organism,” she said.

“The presence of triclosan in human tissues and fluids may lead to neuro-behavioral alterations in humans, which may be further linked to neuro-degenerative diseases,” she said. Neuro-degenerative disorders of unknown origin appear to be on the rise and affect millions of people across the world.


In very low amounts, triclosan may be well tolerated by humans but the use of triclosan-based products on a daily basis poses a big risk to humans in the long term, she claimed.

She added that the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) reviewed the evidence against triclosan and imposed a partial ban on its use. However, India lacks any such regulation so far on the use of triclosan-based products.

The study suggests caution in the use of triclosan-based products and perhaps it is time that triclosan use in India is banned or restricted.

Published on December 15, 2020

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