There is a great deal of evidence that the use of antibacterial soap in the normal household is unnecessary and causes far more harm than good, both to human health and the environment.
The ubiquity of the antibacterials in soaps “is a worrying thing,” lead researcher Dr. Eli N. Perencevich of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, told the media at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in New Orleans. He said at the level of usage of antibacterial soap in the typical home, bacteria could easily develop that would be resistant to both antibiotics and the antibacterial soaps themselves.
In fact, your use of antibacterial cleaners may be hurting your baby’s immune system rather than keeping her healthy. Dr. Levy, who has long been active with the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotic (APUA), spoke of an Italian study that found that exposure to bacteria is essential for development of an infant’s immune system. A baby, he said, must be exposed to germs during its first year in order to develop the antibodies needed to fight infection later in life.
Unfortunately, the dangers of antibacterial soaps and cleansers are not well-known, putting consumer health at risk.
Here are following dangers of antibacterial soaps and cleansers
1. Healthy Bacteria Is Killed, Too
Antibacterial soaps and cleansers are designed to kill bacteria that isn’t good for your body before it reaches unsafe levels. But these antibacterial products also kill the good bacteria – bacteria that can help prevent other bacteria from spreading and that helps you build a natural resistance to bad bacteria. Killing 99.9% of germs, something that many antibacterial product manufacturers use as their main selling feature, is deceiving when some of those germs help strengthen your immune system. So it’s hard to say these cleansers are good for you when they get rid of the good stuff too.
2. Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria On the Rise
Recent research about the effect antibacterial soaps and cleansers have shows some alarming connections to new superbugs that we’re unable to protect ourselves against. With antibacterial products stripping away all germs, even the good germs, we don’t naturally build resistance to new bacteria. This results in the possibility of new bugs threatening our health because our body is unable to fight them off. Many experts believe antibacterial products open the door for new types of bacteria to emerge that are resistant to certain medications, specifically antibiotics. These new superbugs are a danger to public health.
3. Possible Hormone Imbalances
With the antibacterial product market being as vast as it is, more research has been done recently that studies the effect these products may have on hormones. A lot of tests have been done on animals and the results are alarming – triclosan, an ingredient in many antibacterial products, has proven to be an endocrine disruptor. The endocrine system produces and releases hormones and other products into your bloodstream. The disruption that triclosan has on animals affects estrogen, testosterone and thyroid levels. Experts believe women and children are most at risk for potential hormone imbalances from antibacterial products.
4. Increased Allergies
One of the main reasons parents use antibacterial products is to protect their children. Advertising campaigns have been effective in making parents worry about the germs and bacteria their kids come in contact with, leading parents to equip themselves with several types of antibacterial products. But you may be doing more harm than good – triclosan has been linked to causing increased allergies in children. How? The reduced exposure to bacteria can affect the development of a child’s immune system, making them more susceptible to certain allergies. Regularly using antibacterials soaps and cleansers may in fact do the opposite of protecting your children.
5. Harmful to the Environment
There are many questions and safety concerns about the impact triclosan – an ingredient found in a significant portion of antibacterial soaps available – has on your body. But the dangers of antibacterial products don’t just relate to the potential implications on people. Research has shown that triclosan also has a negative impact on the environment. With the amount of people regularly using antibacterial hand and body wash, the water you rinse these products off with becomes contaminated in a way. Not all sewage treatments are able to rid the water of triclosan, so small amounts get into streams and lakes, causing a disruption in algae growth.
6. Triclosan Used In Pesticides
The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are collaborating on regulatory issues related to triclosan. It’s found in many brands of toothpaste, mouthwash, hand and body wash, as well as baby products. And the danger shouldn’t be ignored, especially since the EPA regulates triclosan in the use of pesticides. That’s right – you could be brushing your teeth and covering your body with a chemical that the EPA is reviewing its use of in pesticides. The chemical is absorbed through the skin and mouth much more easily than originally thought, and it makes you wonder why we would chance the possible health risks and environmental damage associated with the chemical.
7. They Don’t Prevent Illness
It’s a common misconception that antibacterial soaps and cleansers prevent you from getting sick, when many colds and strains of the flu are viral in nature and can’t be treated with antibiotics – or avoided by using antibacterial soaps. In fact, you may be preventing your immune system from developing resistance to bacterial infections by not allowing your body to be exposed to them and naturally protect against infections. Advertisements falsely imply that all germs need to be killed to prevent spreading illness, when a significant amount of colds and strains of the flu are viral in nature and cannot be killed.
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