Banning Anti-Bacterial Soap?

Students at the University of Texas voted last week to ban anti-bacterial soap and other products containing triclosan from the university entirely.  The bill was authored by five UT students and unanimously approved by the students.

Now, of course, it will be up to the university administration (and their purchasing department) to decide if they will implement the students’ decision.  However, in 2008, the university already partially switched to foamy, triclosan-free soap citing cost and user satisfaction as the reason.

This is the first time a student body has taken such measures, but triclosan has been under scrutiny for several years.

The FDA decided to review their stance on triclosan several years ago (2010) in light of studies that showed that triclosan altered hormone regulation in animals.  They are still taking the stance that triclosan isn’t harmful to humans, but they are reviewing it anyway.

According to the FDA in order for a product to be called “anti-bacterial” it must contain a pre-approved ingredient (or group of ingredients) in order to qualify.  It’s considered an over-the-counter drug.  Ironically, while triclosan is one of the ingredients that can qualify a product as antibacterial, the FDA says, on their page Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know:

 FDA has not received evidence that the triclosan provides an extra benefit to health. At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. (emphasis added)

Besides the animal studies that show a tentative link to reproductive issues and triclosan, there are also environmental issues and, of even more concern (at least to me) are the studies that have shown the possibility that continual use of triclosan may result in resistant strains of bacteria.

So, when you are out there shopping, don’t fall into the marketing hype that “antibacterial” soap is somehow better just because it costs more.  All soap is removes and kills bacterial.  Find a good, natural, handcrafted soap that smells great, feels good and supports your local economy, and use that!

If you’re worried about “catching something”, just be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines on handwashing.


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