2surfaces Environmental Fad Causes of Autism - Humor the kooks!

Environmental Fad Causes of Autism

Mercury, MMR Vaccines, and now Triclosan

Humor them!   and please don't call them kooks!



Triclosan - the Latest Fad-Cause of Autism

When I saw a comment that someone was advancing the idea of triclosan being the latest cause for the "autism epidemic", it sounded a bit bizarre. Sure triclosan is nasty stuff, but what the **** does it have to do with autism?

In addition to it having no mechanism that can correlate to neurology, the use of the stuff is such that if it caused autism, autism would be skewed to lower economic groups and the "as seen on TV" crowd. This of course makes even less sense when one considers that autism is considered to be 90% inherited.


But I also realized what I sort of saw earlier but ignored -- If these "triclosan-causes-autism" proponents are willing to get rid of the stuff, LET THEM!

Mary Meinel-Newport had alluded to this with reference to mercury in the environment. Rather than disprove the latest fad "cause of autism", why not just humor these people? After all, if one removes the "causes autism" from their rhetoric, what they are saying actually makes sense.

Unlike mercury, which is treated with harmful chelation and other quack cures, and unlike the anti-vaccine movement which affects actual use of vaccines, elimination of triclosan from routine household use can only serve a beneficial purpose. Antibiotics do not belong in soaps, detergents and in our food supply.


Possible Changes in the Law

Triclosan may be removed from the market due to recent e-coli outbreaks in Germany and elsewhere.

The combination of triclosan-resistant e-coli bacteria and the propensity of soaps containing triclosan to leave detritus on skin and other surfaces creates a vulnerability to e-coli outbreaks. As the Germany outbreak of May-June, 2011 showed, e-coli spread in this manner is especially virulent.

In the meantime, the Mayo Clinic indicated that:

Research has shown that triclosan:

  • Alters hormone regulation in animals
  • Might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs
  • Might be harmful to the immune system

When you use a product containing triclosan, you can absorb a small amount through your skin or mouth. A 2008 study, which was designed to assess exposure to triclosan in a representative sample of U.S. children and adults, found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested.

Triclosan isn't an essential ingredient in many products. ... If you're concerned about triclosan, look for products that don't list triclosan in their ingredients.




What Triclosan Is

Simply stated, triclosan is an antibiotic added to antibiotic soaps and detergents. It is found mostly in antibiotic hand soap, antibiotic dish soap, and occasionally in other antibiotic-treated items, including other types of detergent, toys and other durable goods (impregnated as "Microban" treatment), and even some toothpaste. (If you don't see it in your regular supermarket, you're probably shopping in one of the upscale markets; try one of the markets that uses customer tracking cards, and which tells people how much they "saved" by spending money.)

Triclosan has three notable characteristics:

  1. It is an antibiotic added to everyday "regular use" items such as detergents.
  2. It has limited water solubility, meaning it doesn't wash off readily. (This is of particular concern when used with dishes and for personal hygiene.)
  3. Triclosan functions by acting as a biocide, with multiple cytoplasmic and membrane targets. This is inherently harmful to the body's normal cellular functions.
In addition, with persistent use, bacteria are able to build a resistance to triclosan, which means that if one decides to use the substance for actual antibiotic purposes, it would be no more effective on the person than ordinary soaps. (The larger concern is with the potential for cross-resistance or co-resistance to other antibiotics.)

The chemical formula for triclosan is C12H7Cl3O2.

Applying a bit of tin hat logic here, the association of triclosan with a "cause" of autism is an in-vitro study that found that triclosan has a affinity to receptor molecules on the surface of cells and thereby raises calcium levels in the cells. The theory is that the increased calcium levels can burn out neural circuits, causing an imbalance that affects neural development. Presumably the proponents of "autism is caused by triclosan" base their conclusions on that mechanism.

Sorry if this doesn't make sense; it's not expected to! At least it's better than space aliens, and almost as good as Arizona Horseshit.


The Tin Hat Approach to Autism

Unlike the predecessor fad-causes of autism, eliminating triclosan from everyday use can only be beneficial.
Elimination of mercury may also have been good, but this was often followed up with harmful chelatin treatments. The chelation treatments are a form of quack medical treatment. These treatments uses a medical procedure (chelation) in which is harmful and can be fatal, and uses the procedure where there is no documented medical purpose to the procedure.


The thimerosal issue is addressed by using vaccines which do not use thimerosal. There is an increased cost, but thimerosal is an organomercury compound which is avoided as a result.

The MMR theory resulted in reduced immunization, which has the potential of causing harm. (There are people who don't "believe in" vaccinations, but that doesn't negate the harm.)

The "treatment" for use of triclosan in everyday use is to eliminate triclosan from everyday use. This can only be beneficial. The harm caused by the association of triclosan with Autism is the stigmatization of autistics and of autistic children. This has nothing to do with the very desirable goal of removing triclosan from everyday products.

Unfortuately, those advancing those concepts would continue to do so regardless of whether they attribute the autism to triclosan, Communists, space aliens, or Murphy Brown.   (Murphy Brown was someone on a television show that Dan Quayle criticised for allowing a pregnancy to go full term. It turns out she was actually a fictitious character which of course meant that the pregnancy was also fictitious.)

These people cause social harm to Autistic children and Autistic adults by:

  • stigmatizing autistics;
  • promoting quack cures;
  • diverting funds and government programs that could be used for adaptations in schools and in employment; and
  • denying Autistics the opportunity for cultural-social expression.
Clearly the people advancing the wierd theory "causes of Autism" would continue to do harm with or without their favorite theories. Discrediting their theories won't change their approach and may even exasperate their harm.

If they wish to eliminate triclosan from everyday items, we should not discourage them.


Avoiding Triclosan


Quite apart from the "tin hat" theories of causes of autism, avoiding triclosan is worth considering.

Detergents and Soaps
If the label indicates the product includes antibiotics (e.g., "antibacterial"), look on the label for triclosan as an active ingredient.

If the product is marked "kills viruses", it probably does not contain triclosan. Typical virucides include alcohol, which is not harmful as a detergent additive.

Personal Hygiene Products
While many describe "kills germs", look at the ingredients. Obviously an label descriptor of "antibiotic" or "antibacterial" should be given particular scruteny.

Durable Goods
If the item is labeled "antibiotic", "antibacterial" or contains "Microban", dispose of it.

As an alternative, since triclosan is alcohol soluable, there is a possibility that alcohol and soap may be effective in removing triclosan from the surfaces of objects. This would of course depend on the bonding of the triclosan to the plastic.

In Public Areas (mostly restrooms)
Triclosan does not readily rinse off with water.

If it appears that antibiotic soaps are being used, try to use paper towels to avoid soiling the hands. A small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer or disposable towelette is useful as a substitute for the soap, or to attempt to wash off the triclosan.

In rare instances where you are able to discuss the matter with management, explain that their use of triclosan presents a risk of spreading disease because some people deliberately avoid using antibiotic soaps. Additionally, the antibiotic soaps have no effect on spread of germs.
If exposure to the triclosan is unavoidable, attempt to remove the residue by rubbing when rinsing your hands.


Not Avoiding Triclosan

I had found one use for triclosan. I put a small quantity of triclosan soap in a plastic food container, marked it and placed it in my linen closet. If I'm exposed to something particularly septic (e.g., a cat bite) I have a suitable antibiotic soap.



This is linked to pages on relationships and autistics, and relates to the ability of autistics to establish intimate relationships.

to www.scn.org/people/autistics/ index page


Biomedical Treatments for Autism

You Need to be Realistic About Your Child

Abortion and the Eugenics of Autism

Empathy - Autistics Don't Have Empathy, Do They?

Biomedical Treatments for Autism

back to Relationships Index


First posted 20-Jul-08. Last revised 15-Sep-12.

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