Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What You Didn't Know About Antibacterial Soap

By Marcie Barnes

Did you know that the American Medical Association is urging you (and the FDA) not to use antibacterial soaps/products (and has been for years)? It's true, many studies show that these popular soaps are no better at killing germs than regular soap, and there is concern that the chemical - triclosan - one of the most common active ingredients in antibacterial products - presents a serious threat to public health and the environment by creating super-germs. In addition, A 2002 Swedish study found high levels of triclosan in 3 out of 5 human breast milk samples, it is being detected in our streams and rivers (and blatantly used in daycares and schools), and there is evidence that triclosan itself is a toxin that may cause cancer.

I'm not a big fan of frequent hand washing anyway (I hear the collective gasp!) - I think we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one - killing all the germs - most of them which are good for us, in order to reduce the risk of contact with a few bad ones. Don't get me wrong, I wash my hands after I visit the bathroom and I am most obsessive about it when dealing with food preparation, because there is a great risk in food-borne illnesses.

What can you do? Check the ingredients of your household products (there is a list in this article) and stick to safer, more traditional means of cleaning yourself and your surroundings.

Why are these products still on the shelves? My guess: money. The manufacturers can make marketing claims by differentiating their products as "antibacterial" - and you buy them. The FDA has made no moves to ban this ingredient, I would guess, because they are a government agency, and they are influenced by the manufacturers, and their lobbyists.

Need more convincing? Just do a Google for triclosan, and see for yourself!


Jeanine Vlasits said...

I have thought for a long time that these antibacterial soaps are baloney! It's really hard to find siquid soaps without the antibacterials though...and when you do they are more expensive! Go figure! But thanks for putting this info out there. I wish more people knew this.

Marcie Barnes said...

Hi Jeanine - try looking in your local health food store for some great alternatives - just look for 'antibacterial' to be missing from the label - it's a marketing claim and nothing else! I have also found some nice smellin' liquid soaps at Bath & Body Works. Thanks for your comment & good luck!

P.S. I am lobbying my son's school to switch to regular soap, I'd love to see more people do the same! :)