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FDA Bans Antibacterial Hand Soap!

By Sara Butler

If antibacterial hand soap and other products have been a staple in your home over the past several years, you will no longer be able to buy them. The main ingredient in these products, called triclosan, has now been labeled as toxic by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and has been banned. Here’s what you need to know about triclosan and the other chemicals that are being pulled from your store shelves.

Antibacterial Soap Isn’t Needed

The FDA has contended for years that washing your hands with warm water and regular soap is just as effective as antibacterial products without all the pesky side effects. Why are antibacterial products such a big concern? Well, it’s become clear that part of what is fueling antibiotic resistance is antibiotic products such as soap.

The manufacturers of these products have one year to comply with removing the banned ingredients from their products. This includes products such as:

  • Hand soaps
  • Body washes

This does not impact soaps, sanitizers or wipes used in hospital or food service – it concerns over-the-counter products only.

Why Triclosan Has Been Banned

For the last several years it has been known that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor. It impacts your immune system and tampers with your body’s balance of thyroid and testosterone levels, as well as impacting estrogen levels.

Triclosan can also impact allergies, especially seasonal ones in children. Studies have found that children with concentrations of triclosan in their urine also had an increased occurrence of hay fever as well as elevated levels of immunoglobulin in their blood, causing these symptoms.

In a scary turn of events, animal studies have also found that long-term exposure to this chemical can cause liver damage and increase the risk of cancer of the liver. Triclosan degrades and turns into something called dioxin. Dioxin is carcinogenic and has been found to have a link to several different types of cancer.

What About the New Products?

You have to remember that even though triclosan has been banned, it will take a year before it is completely removed from store shelves. Plus, there are three other antibacterial chemicals that haven’t been banned that are being questioned by consumer groups. They are:

  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Benzethonium chloride
  • Chloroxylenol (PCMX)

Just to be safe, you may want to look for these chemicals in the products you buy and steer clear of them.

Remember, ultimately it is your responsibility to educate yourself on products that can be potentially harmful. The FDA's job is to protect consumers, but it can take time before products are banned. For now, good old-fashioned soap and water is the way to go for handwashing in your household.

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