The Dirt on Antibacterial Soaps

After a wonderful week-long visit with my family, it is back to blogging! I truly missed it! Happy Monday!

The big question of the day: Do we need the antibacterial agents in soaps?

First, a look into how regular soap (non-antibacterial) works…

How does soap work?

Regular soap has two main jobs. When you wash your hands, part of the soap is binding to the water and the other part is binding to the dirt, oil, bacteria, etc.

After scrubbing, singing the alphabet twice, and rinsing it all off, all unwanted elements are washed away.

Easy enough, right?

So, why add more ingredients than necessary?????

What else do antibacterial soaps contain?

They have additional agents that kill bacteria (such as triclosan or triclocarbon).

What is triclosan?

A marketing gimmick to convince consumers it is “healthier” or “better” than other soaps. Originally invented for the healthcare community, triclosan has slowly made its way into numerous consumer products. Its safety is currently under review by the FDA- so it is currently allowed in consumer products without any “conclusive” FDA regulations.

The EPA is slowly recognizing and acknowledging the negative effects.

Is triclosan harmful?

The EPA has triclosan registered as a pesticide.  Japan and Canada restrict its use in cosmetics, and several European nations advise their citizens not to use antibacterial products.

Triclosan has made its way into our water- and ultimately algae, phytoplankton, and other aquatic life. It has even shown up in earthworms!

There was a study conducted that linked higher usage of triclosan in children with the development of allergies (http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1002883).

What are other negative effects of adding antibacterial properties?

  1. Some studies say that bacteria are becoming resistant to bactericidal (killer of bacteria) agents.  An article coauthored by Dr. Stuart Levy in the August 6, 1998 issue of Nature warned that triclosan’s overuse could cause resistant strains of bacteria to develop, in much the same way that antibiotic-resistance bacterial strains are emerging.Some bacteria on our bodies are beneficial and actually help fight harmful bacteria.
  2. Some bacteria on our bodies are beneficial and actually help fight harmful bacteria. There has been an ongoing research project called “The Human Microbiome (micro=small, biome=large community) Project” that is focused just on bacteria. They have discovered a great deal of information on bacteria, including that there are at least 1,000 bacterial strains  found on each person! Some of these bacterial strains are a huge factor in the person’s immune system (Another blog post to come recapping this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/health/human-microbiome-project-decodes-our-100-trillion-good-bacteria.html?pagewanted=all)

So how can I avoid triclosan and antibacterial soaps?

By reading the labels!

Triclosan comes in many forms and is known by many names, including: Microban, Irgasan (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum.

16 brands that don’t use triclosan:

  1. CleanWell
  2. LUSH
  3. Nature’s Gate
  4. Vermont Country
  5. Naked Soap Works
  6. MiEssence
  7. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer
  8. Ivory
  9. Paul’s Organic
  10. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
  11. Tom’s of Maine
  12. The Natural Dentist
  13. Listerine Essential Care
  14. Peelu
  15. Weleda
  16. Toxic Free Basics
  17. *Aveda (products contain no triclosan, according to company representatives, but the company has no policy I regarding use of triclosan)

I hope this information is one step forward in your own basal evolution.

Happy washing! 🙂

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