By Victoria Simpson
So many of us have it in the bathroom and kitchen- and maybe other places in the house-antibacterial soap. It’s easy to use, usually comes in a pump and somehow seems more effective, cleaner and less messy to use than a bar of soap.
Well, bad move-it looks like we’re wrong.
Research is revealing that antibacterial soap isn’t our savior- it’s actually the devil in disguise.
That’s right- fancy suit, all trouble. One of the major culprits being targeted in antibacterial soap is something called triclosan. Interestingly, in March 2010, the European Union banned this chemical from all products that come in contact with food, like food containers and silverware. Huh.
Triclosan is something that can be found in many other products besides soap, including antibacterial products in general like hand-wipes, kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and even toothpaste. For some reason the stuff is still around in abundance in North America.
Here are 5 reasons why antibacterial soap, specifically, is actually bad for your health:
1) It’s no better than a bar of soap- and is ruining the dolphins
The Food and Drug Administration in the UK has said there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals present in liquid soaps help prevent the spread of germs any better than a bar of soap. In one study researchers looked to see just how long it would take for triclosan to kill bacteria, and they found that it only did the job if the microorganisms were allowed to soak in the soap for over nine hours.
So, if you have a lot time on your hands…
And while a bar of soap can be made from natural ingredients which aren’t as hard on the environment, the triclosan in antibacterial soap go down the drain and disrupt algae’s ability to perform photosynthesis.
Yikes- bad news.
And finally, it can ruin the dolphins. It’s fat-soluble and can accumulate in high levels in animals that are high on the food chain. In 2009, surveys of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of South Carolina and Florida found concerning levels of the chemical in the mammals’ blood.
Ok, so that’s really about three reasons already, not one.
2) It can cause allergies
Kids with a prolonged exposure to triclosan have shown to have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Sources say scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.
3) It might be cancer-causing
Reports say one study found potential cancer-causing effects of triclosan exposure.
4) It’s an almighty endocrine disruptor-ie, it might mess with your hormones
Triclosan may disrupt hormones, acting as an endocrine disruptor. An article on Smithsonianmag.com states that a number of studies have found that, in rats, frogs and other animals, triclosan seems to interfere with the body’s regulation of thyroid hormone.
Scientists aren’t sure why but it could be because triclosan chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. It isn’t clear if this happens in humans, but if does or can, it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.
5) It could cause antibiotic resistance
Use of too much of something antibacterial can cause a small group of a bacteria population to mutate in a way that causes it be able to survive exposure to the antibacterial substance that is trying to eradicate it. So, the thing being attacked figures out how to protect itself against the enemy.
Some scientists are worried that triclosan is contributing to a surge in drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render antibiotics ineffective.
Tric-chemical is found in an estimated 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S., but with all the evidence pointing to the problems, maybe it’s time to go natural and do away with all the sudsy drama. Grab a bar and lather up.