When it hit the market in the mid 1980’s consumers thought it was revolutionary; a soap that could kill bacteria and microbes that cause viruses. Today a great majority of hand and body soaps are labeled as antibacterial. The main ingredient in the soaps is called “tricolsan” and now scientists believe it could be dangerous.
The Effect on Your Immune System
The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a closer look at antibacterial soap due to the mounting evidence from studies on triclosan. Although antibacterial soap was initially thought to be a great way to fight bacteria, now scientists believe it could damage our skin, our heart, our immune system, and our endocrine system.
One of the most startling questions to date is whether triclosan disrupts the endocrine system and helps to create bacteria that are resistant to current day antibiotics. This of course would not bode well for people who are suffering from bacterial infections. Every year hundreds of people die as a result of bacterial infections in the United States, but it would be in the thousands if it weren’t for antibiotic treatment.
Countless studies have been conducted; the evidence has even been brought to the attention of U.S President Barack Obama. The University of California along with the University of Colorado conducted a study that concluded tricolsan in antibacterial soap impairs muscle function in animals; other studies have shown it has been detected in waterways and aquatic organisms, as well as human blood, urine and breast milk.
In some test tube experiments triclosan made it very difficult for heart muscle cells and skeletal muscle fibers to contract. Protein tests were also carried out in relation to heart function and the results were poor, thus leading the researchers to believe that the chemical could cause cardiac muscle failure.
Not Just Soap Causing Damage…
Any damage to our health or the environment that might be caused by triclosan isn’t just as a result of using antibacterial soap. There are many other consumer products that contain the chemical. The list below includes some examples:
• Shaving Gel
• Children’s toys
It is important to note that only certain brands have triclosan in them.
No Damage? Antibacterial Soap Proponents
The U.S Food and Drug Administration take a different stance on antibacterial soap. They say it isn’t currently “known to be hazardous to humans”. They admit some scientific studies that have been brought to their attention do have merit and deserve review, but they are not yet convinced that there is enough evidence to recommend changing the use of consumer products that contain triclosan. Right now the FDA says triclosan is of great benefit as an ingredient in toothpaste. They have cited studies with Colgate Total as an example.
Due to the ongoing concern about antibacterial soap, as well as other items with triclosan in them, the EPA has decided to step up its review process for this chemical. The examination was supposed to take place in 2023, but instead it will begin in 2013. In the meantime, if you are concerned about the data collected to this point, some studies show that old fashioned soap and warm water kills most germs. If you want to step up your defense and protect your immune system you can use a hand sanitizer that is alcohol based and doesn’t have triclosan or any other chemicals listed on the label.