The Drawbacks to Antibacterial Soap Use

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It starts with a single case that makes headlines in the news. An unknown superbug virus with alarming symptoms breaks out not in some small village in India or Africa, but in a small American town in Kansas. Many citizens of first world countries may be especially alarmed at this news because most breakouts occur in third world countries where people are assumed dirty and malnourished. Additionally, developed countries practice good hygiene and use antibacterial products so that should be enough to keep the virus away right? Wrong. In actuality, this practice may lead to a worse case altogether as such products can be the cause of outbreaks, much less the remedy. Soap infused with supposedly bacteria killing agents have only arisen in consumption in the last fifty to one hundred years at most. Statistics now show that such products take up around 70% of the shelf space in stores.1 Despite this drastic increase in antibacterial soap products on the market today and contrary to common belief, studies have yet to show that such products significantly decrease bacteria concentrations any more than regular soap. Instead, research suggests that ingredients in antibacterial products lead to problems such as viral and bacterial resistance and hormonal problems. Antibacterial products range from anything like hand soaps and lotions to sanitizers and household cleaners. It is important to look at the etymology of the word antibacterial. As a prefix, anti means against, so the word literally means “against bacteria”, or “against germs” as marketers of such products want consumers to believe. The truth in this descriptive word will be reviewed later. The ingredients used in these products fall into two categories, non-residue producing ... ... middle of paper ... ...ated danger due to the use of such products. The data supportive of antibacterial products’ beneficial effects is very weak, especially when compared to products without biocides. So while the data may not be good enough for a scientific conclusion, it is clear enough to draw the conclusion that the benefits do not outweigh the costs. Biocides such as triclosan need to be more closely monitored and controlled by the FDA, if not banned altogether. Even though they may be harmless at low concentrations, the long-term and abundant use without limit poses a risk that could harm people and nature alike on a global scale. Plain soaps and other products made of all natural ingredients accomplish the same objective as antibacterial products without the many adverse effects. Consumers should know the facts and use these products as has been safely done for generations.

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