Sometimes people get sold on things that just aren’t good for them.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products fit into that category. Now the Food and Drug Administration is adding more than a dozen chemicals that have well-established uses in antibacterial soaps.
The FDA said in a prepared release “manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”
Two key targets are triclosan and triclocarban. The FDA has determined from some research in animals that the chemicals can affect hormone levels and result in drug-resistant bacteria.
It’s nothing to be taken lightly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.”
The 19 chemicals on the FDA list in all have long been under scrutiny. The federal agency nearly three years ago told manufacturers of the antibacterial soaps that they needed to show that their products are safe and effective.
That actually has proven to be a lot more difficult than it sounds. The antibacterial products market is a billion-dollar industry. Tests on blood, urine and even breast milk have turned up the chemicals in the bodies of 75 percent of people in the U.S.
Regulators said Friday they either hadn’t received information from the industry supporting the use of the chemicals or what they got didn’t meet federal standards for proving safety and effectiveness. The FDA notes that some companies have already removed the banned chemicals from their soaps and washes.
The FDA adds: “Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead.”
For consumers who don’t think soap is enough, the CDC recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.