Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in hand sanitizers, liquid soaps, toothpastes, and a host of other consumer products, has come under major fire lately. Along with potentially disrupting human sex hormones and hindering fetal development, triclosan—along with its close chemical counterpart triclocarbon—may have severe environmental impacts, as it breaks down into dioxins and makes its way into water sources to harm marine life. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering reassessing its stance on triclosan in response to a petition submitted by 82 environmental and public health groups led by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch.

Larry Weiss, MD, has been studying triclosan and its health impacts for years, which prompted him to start CleanWell, a San Francisco-based company that makes all-natural thyme-based antibacterial liquid hand sanitizers, soaps and sanitizing wipes. Weiss talks with NewHope360 about how triclosan came to be in consumer products, how it affects the population and planet, and how consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and policymakers play a collective role in shifting our nation’s notion of hygiene.