FDA: Antibacterial Soap No More!

washing hands


Marketers have long known that consumers can be convinced of just about anything with the right campaign, and fear is a good place to start. So GERMS are BAD. We must kill them all. And thus soaps containing certain “anti-bacterial” chemicals flooded the marketplace because it’s better to get them before they get us. The problem is that there wasn’t any science to back up that claim and now it seems that we’ve done more harm than good by helping to create antibiotic resistant bacteria and environmental consequences because this soap goes down the drain and into our drinking wter. Some fear that these chemicals are also hormone disrupters. This ruling does not impact that huge bottle of hand sanitizer you donated to your child’s classroom — yet. Health officials and your school nurse are saying what they’ve always said, “use good old soap and water several times a day.”

The FDA ruled on September 2nd that companies can no long sell over-the-counter antibacterial soap products that contain certain active ingredients, because companies failed to demonstrate that the ingredients are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Some manufacturers have already started removing these ingredients from their products.

This final rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients – triclosan and triclocarban. These products are intended for use with water, and are rinsed off after use.  This rule does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

From a Quartz story on the subject: The list of newly-banned ingredients includes the two that the FDA says are the most commonly used in antibacterial soaps: triclosan and triclocarban. Triclosan in particular has troubled public health advocates over the years. As STAT News reports, studies done on lab animals show that the chemical can disrupt hormones in the body, leading to all sorts of issues ranging from infertility to impaired brain development and heart function. In addition, the stuff can end up in sewage sludge that gets used as fertilizer—meaning it can re-enter the food chain through crops.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Not being a huge fan of harsh detergents, I much prefer a hand-made, cold processed soap that preserves the naturally-occurring glycerin and uses high quality oils. If you’re looking for a local source, go to Two Palms Soaps in Dunedin and experience the difference. You probably won’t go back to commercial cleansing bars and you’re skin will love you for it.


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Written by Pamela Settle, owner of Light Shine Media Group and publisher of GoodLiving® Magazine. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced without permission.

GoodLiving Magazine® is printed six times a year for families in Pinellas County, Florida, home to municipalities including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg. The densest county in Florida, population is near 1 Million people. Past issues are available for viewing digitally on the website.

As an advocate for children and families, Pamela Settle serves as the local committee chairperson for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan advocacy organization that works on behalf of the well being of children throughout the State of Florida.

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