Triclosan and a Non-Toxic Classroom

Triclosan and a Non-Toxic Classroom

Antibacterial everything. Antibacterial dish soap, hand soap, body soap, lotion and the list keeps going. I just saw antibacterial spray for a key chain or a back pack. Yeah, it’s everywhere. Did you know, they even put it on sponges to kill germs, that’s why they’re a little wet when you open the package. Another reason to get yourself a Skoy cloth! Kill the germs so we don’t get some weird disease or shoot, a common cold! I can’t poke to much fun of this because I had a ton of the stuff at one time. When I taught, I bought the stuff in bulk and in all varieties. I’ve even seen schools and hospitals putting up hand sanitizer pumps! Even though there has been several reports that the stuff isn’t any more effective then soap and water.

What kills those germs? Triclosan and it is a pesticide. Makes sense because pesticides kill things. Did you know it is in over 140 different products? I didn’t know triclosan is in some toothpaste brands. Scary. What is even more scary, the idea that this pesticide is found in a mothers breast milk. The EPA has just done a preliminary report on Triclosan and it raises some red flags. I recommend visiting the Environmental Working Groups summary of the report and their recommendations. Healthy Child also wrote a great article with some resources and reports that I highly suggest reading.

I’m glad I haven’t been on the antibacterial bandwagon for a long time! It just makes me sad that schools, nursing homes, daycare’s and hospitals are. Many teachers are even requesting children bring ant bacterial products in for the classroom or their desks.  For the most part, everyone should have access to soap and warm water. If you teach children how to wash their hands correctly you will eliminate many germs that cause illness.  Desks and schools are dirty but teachers can help make the classroom healthier by having a cleaning routine that involve the children. Here are some of my tips for having a healthy school year the toxic way:

1. Clean desks and surfaces daily with a safe non-toxic cleaner. Have it be a classroom job and assign two children each day or week. They will enjoy it and best of all your classroom will stay clean and healthy.

2.  Don’t allow toxic products in the classroom. Declare you room a “green” zone. If you have to use a hand sanitzer or germ killer suggest any of the following for alternatives:

For My Kids

Clean Well Hand Sanitizer

EO Hand Sanitizer
Germ Off Wipes
3. Encourage and enforce regular hand washing. Even older children need to be reminded. Before lunch have all the children line up to wash hands. Use a safe non-toxic soap and be a role model for the children by being the first one to wash your hands. Yes, this takes time because they should wash and lather until at least the count of 10 Mississippi’s. It will be a healthy routine that will keep the children safer and in school verses ill and missing school.

4.  Send a note home to the parents about toxic chemicals, asthma and the risks.  This will help the parents understand where you are coming from.

5.  Use an air filter in your classroom and open the window daily for fresh air.  I suggest this in all classrooms because most are either older and have gross odors from old material or they are new and the new material is giving off fumes. We have one in our home and highly recommend it. I will buy one for each child when they enter school and have it follow them each year. It is costly but well worth it. The EPA says the environmental pollution is worse than outdoor pollution. I consider it an investment. You can always go to your PTA or have your parents donate towards the cost.

Hi I’m Sommer! I’ve been blogging for over 7 years and I’m passionate about helping others. I favor the green niche and love to motivate and inspire others to be just a little bit greenER each day. I’m a social media and marketing consultant, children’s book author and antique and flea market junkie. I have a knack for vetting bloggers, creating blogger campaigns and connecting bloggers and brands. I actually like public speaking and have spoken locally, regionally and nationally on blogging, social media and education. I’ve worked with top name brands and have been mentioned and featured in the New York Times Online, ABC News Online, the Wall Street Journal Online and several other media sources. Let’s connect.

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  • http://skimbaco.blogspot.com Katja

    Thank you so much for a great blog post! I have never used any antibacterial products, it sort of feels like common sense not to give these harsh chemicals to children..

    Katjas last blog post..Fall 08 must have: Trench Coat

  • http://wellatleastitry.blogspot.com joan

    I couldn’t agree more. There is such a mindset about soap having to be antibacterial. Another point, it is bad for septic tanks. It kills the bacteria needed for breakdown.

    joans last blog post..Back to Blogging

  • http://greenbabyguide.com Rebecca (Green Baby Guide)

    I knew I didn’t like antibacterial soap (and everything else), but I had no idea it contained SUCH toxic stuff. I like the idea of assigning kids to do the green cleaning in the classroom. You’re right–they’d probably enjoy the task. You could even have a little lesson about germs, soap, cleanliness, and the evils of antibacterial products!

    Rebecca (Green Baby Guide)s last blog post..Using Economic Offsetting to Afford Green Products

  • twoluvcats

    Thank you for this. I am printing out a copy and am going to give it to my daughter’s teacher on Monday when she starts school. Our school district has a love affair with waterless handwasher. Last year I was friendly enough with the teacher that I was able to at least make sure the handwasher that was available in the classroom was triclosan-free. I’m hoping I will be able to do the same this year.

    Thankfully many popular brands of WHW have taken triclosan off of their ingredient lists. I’ve found Bath & Body Works to be one of the worst offenders of sticking it in there.

  • http://mommysgotgreen.blogspot.com Alexandra Hancock

    Triclosan also has a 99% kill rate people!!!!!!

    Alexandra Hancocks last blog post..DIY: Non-Toxic Homemade Beauty

  • http://howtomakeadifferencenow.blogspot.com Meg

    I really don’t understand this crazy preoccupation with making everything germ free. Its really just the media creating a need for products that well, we don’t need.

    Washing your hands with plain old soap and water for about the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ does the trick . . . really!!

    And vinegar has anti-bacterial properties. You can use tea tree oil too if you feel you need to.

    We don’t need to live in a sterile environment. Our immune systems are quite capable of dealing with most of the germs we encounter in everyday life.

    Megs last blog post..5 Ideas to Help You say "Enough"

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  • Ross

    The air filter you link to is what I call a “Scam-filter”. I agree with the rest of the post, but caution should be taken when considering an air purifing device. Most do not “Clean” the air, or generate dangerous ozone, as this device does. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, continues to urge the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to set indoor ozone limits for all air purifiers and mandate performance tests and labels disclosing the results. CU also urges the Federal Trade Commission to investigate air purifier ads to determine the validity of health-related claims.

    But if you’re set on buying an air purifier, read our (consumer reports)latest report “Filtering the claims” and see our Ratings of room and whole-house models (available to subscribers) and keep these points in mind:

    Consider a whole-house air purifier. Forced-air heating/cooling systems circulate so much air that they can overwhelm portable purifiers. Whole-house purifiers are a better option. Better products range from $10 to $30 for do-it-yourself filters (shown) to $1,000-plus systems that have to be installed by a pro. The latter are more effective at removing dust and smoke.DIY furnace filters do nearly as good a job of removing dust but aren’t as good at removing smoke. Buy a whole-house air purifier with a filter rather than an electrostatic precipitator, which produces some ozone.

    Buy a bigger portable model. Portable air purifiers work best at high speeds but are quietest on low. Run the unit on the higher, louder setting when you’re not in the room, and turn it down to low when you’re nearby. Or buy an air purifier certified for a larger area. We believe a clean-air delivery rate (CADR) above 350 is excellent, and one below 100 is poor. Look for CADR figures with an Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) logo. Only those were confirmed by AHAM.

    Avoid ozone generators. Makers of ozone generators often target home users with claims that the devices reduce allergens such as dust, smoke, pollen, germs, and mold.

  • Linda B.

    I work in a public school and some of the most toxic things in the classrooms are the teachers! They come reeking of cologne, scented lotion, scented deodorant, scented hair products, etc. And nowadays the men are just as fragrant as the women. And the poor kids are subjected to breathing that unhealthy mix of carcinogens and neurotoxins. The few I’ve approached about it always say something like, “Oh, I don’t use anything” — even though we can smell ‘em halfway down the hallway, and it also lingers LONG after they’re gone (since the fragrances are specifically designed to LAST A LONG TIME). *sigh*

  • Nancy Michelli

    If you look at the actice ingredients of Germ Off Wipes and look them up you will find that they are pesicides albeit at small amounts. My parents sold Shaklee for years and even though I find most of their products to be safer than over the counter store bought items there are still a few of them that I would not consider to be safe., Obvuiously none of the fragranced products and also the “germicidal” products. Better to go with non toxic soaps and essential oil products.

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  • http://notquitecrunchyparent.blogspot.com/ MC Milker

    Thank you – I’m amazed at how many parents are still unaware of the side effects of hand sanitizers.

  • http://www.biggreenpurse.com Diane MacEachern

    Triclosan doesn’t only impact us. When it washes down the drain, it ultimately emerges in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Research shows that triclosan is upsetting thyroid function in frogs, and otherwise wreaking havoc on the aquatic environment. Stick to non-antibacterial soap and water, and do the frogs (as well as yourself) a favor!

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  • http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com crunchy domestic goddess (amy)

    so what’s on my daughter’s school kindergarten supply list as an optional donation item? hand sanitizer (purell)! do u know if purell has Triclosan in it? (i assume yes, but i have never bought it.) wondering if i can get the teacher to use the Clean Well stuff instead.

  • http://www.clementinenw.com/blog Brenna

    What a great post for back to school season. It’s amazing to me how many people still buy into the idea that anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer are necessary, including my husband sometimes! I am lucky that my son’s school where he will be in kindergarten this year is very conscious of toxins and eco-friendly practices. Of course we can always do better.

  • http://www.greenandcleanmom.org greenandcleanmom

    Oh no!!!! Amy, I contacted our local health food store to see if I could order Clean Well in bulk from them to donate.

  • http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com crunchy domestic goddess (amy)

    great idea. i will give that a go. :)

  • mother earth aka karen hanrahan

    All I can say is how does this stuff stay on the market ??

  • http://retrohousewife05.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    My husband is a teacher and he uses natural cleaners, Skoy cloths, and takes his own soap to work. He is only a second year teacher and has a lot going on so he can’t fix the whole school (though he did get them to start recycling this year), he does what he can in his room.

    He uses an air filter as well.

  • http://www.kitchenstewardship.com Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

    What important information. I am as anti-antibacterial as one can get. I wrote a letter to Bath and Body Works recently about their overuse of triclosan. It’s in almost every product they sell! If you’d like to send it, too, you can find it at http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/05/call-to-action-bath-and-body-works-anti-antibacterial-soap-letter/. I’m not quite as anti-hand sanitizer, since the active ingredient in most is just alcohol, but I do watch for triclosan sneaking into the bottles and avoid it at all costs.

    Thanks for encouraging parents and teachers to take action!

  • Boardwalk @ compare air purifiers .blogspot.com

    Wow! I had no idea… I decided not to jump on the WHW bandwagon for two reasons 1) It does not actually clean your hands. What if you have oil on your hands? Yeah you’re bacteria free, but you still die! 2) I’ve read too much about our love affair with antibacterial stuff being the cause of these new super germs.

    I hadn’t really been trying to dissuade others from their habit, but I will with this new information.
    .-= Boardwalk @ compare air purifiers .blogspot.com´s last blog ..Before You Buy an Air Purifier Know the Dangers! =-.

  • BMAH

    Tea tree oil is an all natural anti bacterial, ani viral and anti bacterial. Try using RESTORZ soap with all natural tea tree oil instead of Triclosan.

  • Rusty R

    I use hanmade soap it is excellent it has no Triclosan it works all naturally with tea tree oil, lavender and peppermint essentail oils. Blue Dolphin soap co

  • http://www.aom.sg/ Air Cleaner

    is it real how come this pesticide comes to mothers breast. its better to used a natural way of fighting the bacteria. than using toxic chemicals

  • Highmtn

    My husband teaches in a classroom of elementary children and he has discovered a product called Soft & Shield Hand Sanitizer and Moisturuzer. It is alcohol free and triclosan free and it lasts for four hours so there is no need to constantly reapply. Basically 2 applications a day is coverage enough . I would encourage everyone to try it. My husband bought it online and has been really happy with it.

  • http://cleanrz.com/ Cleaning Services

    There are too many antibacterial products these days. This will create super bacteria in the future. Nice blog design BTW.

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  • Lisa Sharp

    My husband takes natural hand sanitizer for the kids in his classroom to use as well as some for himself. He used to also take his own hand soap when he worked at another school where he and just one other teacher shared a bathroom but he doesn’t have that option now. 

    He uses natural cleaners in his room as well. He has used both Pure Green 24 and Seventh Generation’s disinfectant. And he has an air filter in his room. 

  • Brandy keeter

    what kind off filter do you use in your home, thank u!!

  • Brandy keeter