Updated: Apr 7
Soaps, body washes and shower gels are a 5.5 billion dollar industry. This September, the FDA will come to a decision on whether ingredients listed on gels as labeled “antibacterial” are effective and better than a person just washing one’s hands with plain soap and water. If the FDA thinks the products don't live up to what it’s claiming, then the companies are going to have to reformulate their product and take down the claims that are on their labels. The Food and Drug Administration reviews hand sanitizers, reinforcing the war on germs in hospitals where workers deal with many virulent bacteria and diseases.
So whats the problem? Well, there is a commonly used chemical called triclosan that the FDA never took formal action against, although it has been criticized. There are studies that states that triclosan can “interfere with hormones and cause changes in thyroid, reproductive-growth and developmental systems.” Another problem? Research also points to the increasing utilization of antibacterials aiding the creation of bacterias that are resistant to the antibiotics.
Many environmental assemblies and scientists believe that washing your hands with plain soap and water is better because there isn't enough data demonstrating antibacterial soaps are any better than plain soap.
Many products from the $30 billion cleaning-products industry are less aggressive at combating germs than plain soap and are also hazardous. While consumers may use soaps for a few seconds and wash them down the drain, the environmental afterlife of soaps are long. Many antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan work by weakening bacteria. Antibacterials are designed to prevent the spread of disease - causing bacteria to people who aren’t already infected. Antibiotics are designed to cure disease. There are warnings, that banning the antibacterial products would let the level of risk and exposure of the general population to bacteria skyrocke, increasing infection and disease, including 7.5 million cases of food-borne illness and $38 billion in health-care costs annually.
Rolf Halden, author of the review and director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Security says antibacterial agents, “can play an important role in hospitals and health-care settings, but they do not belong in all households, our food supply and our bodies at all times”.