This has been a crazy year for the conventional wisdom on personal hygiene. First, the dental establishment admitted there is no proof that flossing improves oral health. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has banned many antibacterial hand soaps and body washes, saying there is no evidence they are more effective than regular soap, and have not been proven safe.
The FDA is concerned that key ingredients in antibacterials, including something called triclosan, could disrupt human hormone and might make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics. One concern: these chemicals get into the water supply every time we wash our hands or take a shower. Manufacturers have a year to phase out triclosan and 18 other problematic chemicals. Three other ingredients remain under review.
Antibacterial soap is wildly popular. This ruling affects some 2,000 products, 40% of the soaps sold over the counter. It doesn’t apply to antibacterial products used in health care or food service operations.
I’m as germophobic as the next American, but I think I’m going to stop using these soaps right away. No sense taking chances – especially when I can just douse my germ-laden hands with hand sanitizer. For now, at least!