The FDA banned most of the chemicals found in antibacterial soaps last year, but the new chemicals companies are replacing them with are even more toxic, a new study warns
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned 19 chemicals found in antibacterial soaps last September, acknowledging they’ve caused more harm than good over the last half century.
Public health experts had pushed the FDA to ban the old antimicrobial chemicals for decades, warning that they were toxic, ineffective and responsible for creating antibiotic-resistant super-bugs.
Unfortunately, the new chemicals soap companies are replacing banned chemicals with are even more toxic, a new study shows.
And, the banned chemicals are still allowed in several other products, like toothpaste, pacifiers and children’s toys.
The agency is still studying the safety and efficacy of hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes.
Here’s why you should avoid all antibacterial products like the plague:
1. They are toxic. The two most popular antibacterial chemicals on the market are triclosan and triclocarban. While they’ve been banned from hand and body wash, they are still present in toothpaste, toys, pacifiers, kitchenware, paint and furniture.
These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with important hormone functions, which directly affect our brains, immune systems and reproductive systems.
“Specifically, the chemicals disturb thyroid, testosterone, and estrogen regulation, which can create a host of issues including early puberty, poor sperm quality, infertility, obesity, and cancer,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental organization who sued the FDA to ban the chemicals.
“Studies have also shown they can lead to impaired learning and memory, exacerbate allergies, and weaken muscle function. The impacts of prolonged exposure during fetal development, infancy, and childhood can be particularly severe, resulting in permanent damage.”
And the new chemicals companies are replacing banned chemicals with — benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol — are even more toxic, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution last month.
2. They create super-bugs. Several studies have shown that the overuse of antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan is contributing to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, a major public health concern. At least two million people in the United States fall sick—and about 23,000 die—from antibiotic-resistant infections every year.
3. They pollute the environment. Even if you decide not to use antibacterial products, when other people do, and wash them down the drain, they enter our waterways and are transported far and wide, the NRDC says. “The triclosan gets into our sewage system, into our solid waste and fertilizer, and into our food.”
Researchers have found triclosan in 75 percent of Americans and even in animals.
Want a chemical free soap you can use to wash your hands, hair, body, dishes, laundry and pretty much anything else with? Try Dr. Bronner’s castile soap:
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