(picture courtesy of NPR.org)
Several years ago our household stopped using antibacterial soap, for multiple reasons. The first was that doctors were beginning to warn that overuse of antibacterial soap could make it harder for antibiotics to work when you actually needed them. The second was that the soap left our hands so dry that we needed to constantly use lotion. The third reason was that some of us began to get eczema as our skin reacted to the soap.
First we switched to using aloe vera liquid soap for hand-washing, as it seemed to be one of the few varieties of liquid soap that didn’t have antibiotics added. For the bathtub, we switched over to Kirk’s Castile Soap. The dryness and rashes decreased, though not entirely. Then last year one of our sons got fed up with his kids always having skin reactions to the soap, and began to make his own from scratch. There were no antibiotics or weird ingredients with names we couldn’t pronounce in his home brew. After awhile all of us were using his soap bars, and none of us were itching.
Two days ago, the Food And Drug Administration officially declared that antibacterial ingredients in soaps are not good for us. They make our bodies build up a tolerance to antibiotics. They may also mess up our hormones, cause thyroid malfunctions, increase chances of allergies to peanuts and other foods, and cause muscle weakness. After three years of allowing the soap companies to make their own case, the FDA said the companies had not proved that the antibacterial ingredients were safe. They now have one year to remove them from the liquid and bar soaps.
There are 19 ingredients that are being banned, triclosan being the one that is used the most widely in soaps. According to more than one news outlet, the FDA has been keeping an eye on triclosan safety since the 1970’s. It shouldn’t take decades for the government agency that’s supposed to look out for the health and safety of Americans to decide that triclosan is bad for us. This is a national disgrace.
For a list of the newly-banned substances, check out this NPR article: