Chalk one up for the Food and Drug Administration! Because “antibacterial” soaps and liquids have not been proven to be safe, the FDA recently banned 19 ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, from these types of consumer product formulations. Manufacturers now have a year to remove these ingredients from their products, or else stop selling the products entirely.
This is good news for anyone concerned about these harmful chemicals that can potentially enter the bloodstream via the skin.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in a news release. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
Indeed, animal studies of triclosan have shown that it can interfere with such important bodily functions as:
It may also weaken heart and skeletal muscle, and it’s been associated with hay fever and other allergies, as well as elevated body mass index in adults. Not to mention concerns that use of triclosan could lead to antibiotic resistance—or that fish exposed to it couldn’t properly swim.
Triclosan is the most common active ingredient in antibacterial consumer hand soaps on the market today. It is used in approximately 2000 different products, a whopping 93% of liquid products with the words “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” on their labels. It can also be found in other types of products, including toothpaste, lipstick, shoes and even cutting boards.
While this ban of triclosan and other ingredients from consumer products like hand soaps and sanitizers is clearly a step in the right direction, the FDA continues to evaluate similar types of triclosan-containing products, like antiseptic rubs, that are not designed to be washed off with water.