Do antibacterial soaps do more harm than good? A government agency is looking into that.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review the antibacterial chemical, triclosan.
It’s found in liquid hand soap, deodorant bar soaps, face washes, deodorants, toothpastes and mouthwashes.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) has called for a ban on the chemical in personal care products. Markey cites concerns that use of triclosan may encourage the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Studies have shown that microbes resistant to triclosan also seem to have picked up resistance to other antibiotic drugs at the same time.
The FDA says triclosan isn’t known to be hazardous to people. But the agency is going to evaluate new evidence and come to some conclusion next year.
Triclosan stops or slows the growth of bacteria. It does help fight germs on your hands. But the common cold and stomach bugs are viruses, and triclosan doesn’t help fight those.
Some studies have found that, at the level contained in consumer products, washing with antibacterial soaps doesn’t kill more bacteria than washing with regular soaps.
However, at higher concentrations used in hospitals, it does improve germ removal.
Even without further FDA research, an article in the LA Times says many doctors, public health officials and environmentalists think triclosan isn’t worth the risk.
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