Triclosan is a common ingredient to most popular hand sanitizers for its powerful antifungal and antibacterial effects. It is also added to toothpaste to counteract gingivitis. Since 1972 it has been added to soap, deodorant, mouth wash, and cleaning supplies.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Colorado found that triclosan impairs muscle contraction. They summed their findings:
- In isolated heart and skeletal muscle tissue, triclosan inhibited muscular contraction within 10-20 minutes of exposure.
- In mice, injected triclosan, at a concentration of 12.5 mg/kg body weight, reduced heart function by up to 25% in anesthetized mice and reduced grip strength of conscious mice by 18% for up to 60 minutes.
- Triclosan exposure for seven days, at a concentration of 0.52 micromolar, significantly inhibited the swimming ability of fathead minnow larvae. Fathead minnows are a small fish often used to study the effect of aquatic pollutants.
Though the compound exhibits muscle inhibition in animals, its clinical effects on humans have not been verified. Due to triclosan’s ubiquity in household cleaning agents and hand sanitizer, it is advisable to be wary, especially for people prone to muscle weakness or heart disease.