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Untold: The Irreversible Effects Of Toothpastes To The Environment

Omukuti
By Omukuti | self meida writer
Published 25 days ago - 2 views

For good dental and oral health, we use toothpastes for at least two times in a day. This, in a year accounts for at least four packets of toothpaste used up by a single person. As a matter of fact, toothpastes come in different brands. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, what are the ingredients that make up a toothpaste, and how many ingredients and in what ratio can make up a complete toothpaste?


The ingredients might include preservatives, a compound that prevents caries, polishing ingredient, detergents, perfumes, taste, colour, among others. The amount and type of ingredients vary among the different toothpaste brands. Basing on statistical data, a varying number of 8-24 ingredients were found to make up a complete toothpaste. At this point, we need to consider a number of factors in relation to the toothpaste building blocks/ingredients. 

Photo: Different toothpaste brands available in the market/file

The interaction of these ingredients with the environment is the key focus. First, whether a particular ingredient is biodegradable or not, lays the foundation of the relationship. Biodegradable compounds take a short time to persist in the environment and are easily cleared up. So, their effect is not long lasting. On the other hand, non-biodegradable compounds take a longer time to be cleared up and persist in the environment. They therefore pose long lasting effect(s) to the environment. Secondly, is the ingredient toxic, or lastly, is a particular ingredient really needed to make up a toothpaste in question?


Before developing a toothpaste, the forenamed factors need to be considered. The analysis of the effects to the environment as well as the benefits a particular toothpaste offers to the oral health need to be done. This will ensure that only compounds that are biodegradable and cause no/little effects to the environment are incorporated in the manufacture of these very essential products. 

Photo: the most commonly used toothpaste in Kenya.

Preservatives have been known to increase shelf life of products, hence durability and easy handling in stores. The use of preservatives in the manufacture of toothpastes and cosmetics has been a point of debate in the recent past. This is because they are problematic to the environment in the sense that they are not only toxic to ecosystems, but also have harmful and persisting effects on bacteria. 


Bacteria play a pivotal role in the ecosystem and the environment at large. One of the greatest applications is degradation of wastes, and this property has been used extensively in sewage treatment plants. When preservatives from toothpastes are washed into the sewage channels, they find their way into these treatment plants where they potentially kill the microscopic machinery. This increases the pollutants in the environment, hence more pollutants in drinking water. 

Photo: a new manufactured toothpaste /file

Moreover, synthetic compounds can be harmful to the environment. This includes inorganic compounds such as phosphates and nitrates that contribute to eutrophication when channeled to water bodies and marine ecosystems. The challenge still remains in the study of the properties of the incredients and the relationship with the environment, that helps in selecting ingredients with the least environmental impact.

Content created and supplied by: Omukuti (via Opera News )

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