Public health experts have been saying for years that antibacterial chemicals need to be regulated. The FDA has finally listened! They announced that manufacturers must prove that antibacterial chemicals are safe by 2016 or they’ll have to pull their products off the shelves.
Antibacterial chemicals were originally used by surgeons before an operation to prevent infections in patients, but their use has gotten completely out of hand. Antibacterial chemicals can now be found in all manner of products – from dish soap to baby pacifiers to fabrics – and may be doing us more harm than good. Based on countless scientific studies, antibacterials, specifically triclosan, have been linked to hormone production problems and can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections. Triclosan (which is a highly persistent, potentially endocrine-disrupting chemical) also been linked to cancer and brain damage.
Incredibly, the FDA was supposed to have set guidelines for the use of triclosan in household products in the 1970’s, but didn’t actually publish this report until LAST DECEMBER (12/16/13). Due to the overwhelming data that the cost of putting antibacterial chemicals into everything might in fact out weight the benefits, the FDA has demanded the manufacturers prove that their chemicals are 1) safe for public consumption and 2) more effective than soap and water alone.
Every day, consumers use antibacterial soaps and body washes at home, work, school and in other public settings. Especially because so many consumers use them, FDA believes that there should be clearly demonstrated benefits to balance any potential risks.
In fact, there currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water, says Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA.
Moreover, antibacterial soap products contain chemical ingredients, such as triclosan and triclocarban, which may carry unnecessary risks given that their benefits are unproven.
“New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits,” Rogers says. There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.
We are so pleased that the triclosan issue is being addressed. We’ve been saying for years that these chemicals were being put unnecessarily into household products that we use everyday, not to mention promoted as “better cleaners” than “old fashioned” soap. It’s about time the FDA required some kind of proof!
- The New York Times covered this story. Read the full article here.
- Smithsonian.com also covered this story. Read the full article here.
Looking for a Triclosan-free hand soap? Try our Foaming Hand Soap, made from organic oils.