The FDA has banned 19 chemicals found in antibacterial soaps.
But we love our antibacterial soaps?! They protect us from those nasty bacteria we have grown to fear! This is how most people feel because we have become a germaphobic society. And yes, we don’t want to get infected with every bacteria out there. However, we have been creating bacterial resistance since the dawn of antibiotics, and now also with our excessive use of antibacterial hand washes. We sanitize everything! But why? Are you aware that without bacteria, you would not be alive? We need some those little critters around. As far as the bad ones go, we need them susceptible to our medications and soaps for those that aren’t able to protect themselves (HIV, cancer, depleted immune system…).
So why did the FDA take this drastic measure?
There have been significant questions regarding the efficacy of antibacterial soaps. Companies can claim that adding chemicals makes for a better hand wash, but where’s the proof that regular soap and water aren’t just as good? There is no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps actually work any better. While the evidence of efficacy is lacking, there is evidence to show that these soaps are contributing to bacterial resistance. Then there is the issue of safety. Animal models have shown that some of the more popular chemicals used, affect hormone levels. These were animal studies only and have not been reproduced in human models.
In light of these major concerns, the FDA asked the companies to produce evidence of safety and efficacy back in 2013. And what did the companies do, nothing. Shocking, right? Not-so-much when you consider the amount of money companies make based on our fear of bacteria. So the FDA has finally decided to pull the plug on 19 chemicals. Companies have until September of 2017 to eliminate these chemicals from the shelves. This will not effect hospitals or nursing homes and it will not effect alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Iodine complex (ammonium esther sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
- Iodine complex (posphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
- Nonylphenoxypoly ethanoliodine
- Poloxamer-iodine complex
- Poloxamer-iodine 5 to 10 percent
- Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
- Methylbenzethonium cholride
- Phenol 16
- Secondary amyltricresols
- Sodium oxychlorosene
- Triple dye
This is a long list and I can’t pronounce the majority of these! The general rule is that is the product says antibacterial, it likely contained one of these products. The most common ones used are Tricolsan and Triclocarbon.
What is Acceptable?
There are an additional three chemicals that are not yet banned: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol. The FDA has given companies until February to provide safety and efficacy information on these chemicals. Until then, many companies have switched their formulas to include these chemicals, while still carrying the antibacterial label. I would guess that the companies will now take the FDA seriously and attempt to get this data together quickly!
Now that your precious antibacterial soaps are disappearing, just use regular soap and water! All you have to do is look for a hand soap that DOES NOT say antibacterial. With absolutely no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps prevent any bacterial infections, why expose yourself to any extra chemicals? Skin is the largest organ in the body and these chemicals do get absorbed. If they don’t do any good, don’t use them. These bugs aren’t going to hurt you, but those chemicals will. This seems backwards to me!