You know those little tiny bottles of hand sanitizer everyone carries in their purse or has dangling from their keychains? Well, it turns out hand sanitizer might not be the best defense against dirt and germs. In fact, it could be contributing to the growth of antibacterial-resistant bacteria.
Triclosan, a chemical first approved by the FDA in 1969, is a common ingredient in hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap. Triclosan is a controversial ingredient: although it does prohibit the growth of some bacteria, some studies have shown that it is no more effective in daily life than regular old soap. It’s also has also been linked to hormone disruption in animals, causing additional concern.
The FDA is currently reviewing triclosan, considering a ban on the chemical. Allison Aiello, an epidemiologist at University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor says:
“It’s clear that triclosan targets some bacteria but not all, but it’s not effective against viruses, and viruses cause the majority of illnesses in a community setting. It seems strange to support or promote a product that targets specific bacteria but doesn’t actually target the viruses that cause most of the illnesses in a household. To me, that doesn’t make much sense.”
There’s a lot of people who feel that good old soap and water is just fine for cleaning hands and reducing bacteria. Is the way your grandmother cleaned her hands making a comeback? Might Bath and Body Works do less business with their fruity antibacterial soaps and sanitizers? I guess that is, in some part, dependent on what the FDA finds as they continue to research triclosan and its effects on our bodies, as well as on bacteria.
What about you? Do you swear by antibacterial products or do you let your immune system do the deed?