Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Down the drain?

While most environmentalists are focussing on the big issue du jour, climate change, and the talks in Bali, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has flagged up the fact that we still need to take care on more parochial issues such as not poisoning our water supply. Musks and petroleum based materials for personal hygiene products can take a very long time to break down in the environment and some are toxic.

I've been using this lovely chocolate shower gel from Faith in Nature. One of the claims is 'no SLES'. I must admit I had to look up what SLES was: sodium laureth ether sulphate - used as a foamer. According to Wikipedia, there's been quite a debate about the toxicity (or otherwise) of SLES, although it is known to inflame sensitive skin, so probably not a bad thing to avoid anyway.

The green personal cleansing product market has been established for a long time, but take care with the labels. I spotted a 'natural' product in one major high street store which contained triclosan - an anti bacterial agent. There has been a similar debate on whether triclosan can cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics (the scientific community suggests not), but it is still regarded as a persistent pollutant in the RSC study so shouldn't really be in a product promoted as 'green'.

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At 6:25 PM, Blogger Chiara said...

I have had the same disappointing experience of finding "green" liquid soaps containing Triclosan. I personally avoid products containing Triclosan as Triclosan appears to disrupt thyroid function in frogs, as reported in the 3 November 2006 edition of the podcast Living on earth (
an in the peer reviewed article by
Nik Veldhoen, Rachel C. Skirrow, Heather Osachoff, Heidi Wigmore, David J. Clapson, Mark P. Gunderson, Graham Van Aggelen and Caren C. Helbing (2006) The bactericidal agent triclosan modulates thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and disrupts postembryonic anura development, Aquatic Toxicology, vol. 80 pp. 217–227.

Best wishes and thank you for the very informative blog.

Chiara at EcoHappy blog(


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