Before you reach for that antibacterial soap or sanitizing gel to clean your hands, you might want to reconsider. So many of us have become afraid of bacteria, doing everything we can to kill germs and viruses on our bodies and in our homes, but studies show the chemicals found in these products are doing more harm than good.
The active ingredients found in many of them include triclosan in liquid soaps and triclocarban in bar soaps, and have been shown to create bacteria resistance, disrupt hormones, and affect the heart and other muscle contractions in the body.
Triclosan is actually a registered pesticide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is a synthetic chemical developed more than 40 years ago for surgical scrubs. Today, it can be found in approximately 75 percent of hand soaps and more than 140 personal care and home products, including body washes, toothpastes, cutting boards, mattress pads, clothing and furniture.
In January, Dr. Mehmet Oz interviewed Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group on the Dr. Oz Show to discuss the topic. White explained triclosan may interfere with thyroid hormones, and the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, and some studies show it may damage the heart muscle.
“In the lab, it disrupts hormones and can damage reproductive systems,” Dr. Oz explained in a Health-Tribune column. “In the environment, it pollutes water and then transforms into something much worse, the cancer-causing agent dioxin. Like all plentiful antibiotics, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and it’s everywhere. Three-quarters of North Americans have triclosan residue in their urine; it’s even common in breast milk.”
Additionally, studies show triclosan may encourage the spread of mutated bacteria that can survive antibiotics, and the American Medical Association recommends not using triclosan in the home because of this. In an article on his Web site, Dr. Joseph Mercola said:
“Even the FDA states, ‘animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation’ and that ‘other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.’”
The Food and Drug Association recently declared it has seen “no evidence” that triclosan is any more effective at preventing disease than plain soap and water, and in December 2013, asked manufacturers of anti-bacterial soap and body wash to prove their products are more effective then plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of infection, and also prove their products are safe for long-term use. These manufacturers have until December 2014 to submit studies proving this, and If they can’t provide evidence, they will need to reformulate their products or re-label them.
Reading labels and avoiding anti-bacterial and other products listing triclosan as an ingredient is the best way to start. Below are a few we recommend as all-natural alternatives.
Honest Hand Soap Founded by actress Jessica Alba, The Honest Co. offers all natural products for the body, home and baby. Their hand soap is all-natural, non-toxic and biodegradable, infused with essential organic lemongrass oil and grapefruit seed botanical extracts to clean and soften hands, and it is free of phalates, triclosan, dyes, phosphates and more. They are available in Mandarin, Lavender or Lemongrass, and each bottle is 12 ounces. www.honest.com; $4.95 each.
Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray
This moisturizing antiseptic kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria naturally with plant-based ingredients, including aloe vera. It is chemical free, and does not use tricolsan, benzalkonium chloride, phthalates parabens, fragrances, glycol, enzymes, dyes, chlorine, ammonia chloride, formaldehyde or petrochemicals.It is also available in a gel form. www.honest.com; $5.95 for 2-pack of spray.
100 Percent Pure Hand Wash
These hydrating hand washes from 100 Percent Pure contain antioxidants, vitamins and other anti-aging nutrients, and while they are anti-bacterial to kill germs, they remain free of toxins, including triclosan, and do not contain any parabens, artificial fragrances, sulfates or chemical preservatives. Available scents include Lemon Green Tea, Forest, Key Lime and Mint, and Clementine, and each is 11 ounces. www.100percentpure.com; $11 each.