The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned antibacterial soap sales in the United States, and the reason why is incredibly disturbing. Many Americans have turned to antibacterial soap for years, believing them to be a safe and effective way to remove dirt and germs from the body and hands, and more effective than traditional soap and water. However, when the FDA banned the popular soaps, they informed the public that they might not be so effective after all.
What’s more and infinitely more disturbing, according to the FDA, the chemicals most commonly used in antibacterial soaps may not even be safe.
A total of 19 chemicals often used in antibacterial soaps have been targeted by the FDA, and the agency has given manufacturers only a year to remove them all from the products they are selling (and marketing as safe and effective) to the public. As The New York Times reports, while nearly 20 chemicals were involved in the decision that led to the antibacterial soap being banned by the FDA, two are the primary culprits. Triclosan and triclocarban are used in both bar and liquid antibacterial soap, and they are almost everywhere.
When the FDA banned antibacterial soap this week based on the risks of using the product often outweighing the benefits, they didn’t ban the questionable chemicals from all products. Reportedly, at least one toothpaste uses a now-banned chemical, but according to the FDA, in that product it’s risks are less than the benefits it provides to consumers.
While the news that antibacterial soap has been banned by the FDA may be shocking and sudden to some, the truth of the matter is that there have been questions about its safety for years and years. As Smithsonian Magazine reports, the FDA has been threatening to ban antibacterial soap for years. In the article, published in 2014, cited questions that the FDA had about the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soap. Even then, the FDA warned that antibacterial soap would be banned if manufacturers didn’t prove that it was both safe and more effective than using soap and water.
Apparently, the industry was unable to prove that antibacterial soap is safe or provides a public benefit that outweighs the potential risk of exposure of the chemicals used in the product.
At the time of the Smithsonian Magazine article, triclosan (with is banned as part of the FDA’s sweeping decision on antibacterial soap) was used in roughly 30 percent of all bar soap and 75 percent of liquid antibacterial soap. In 2014, the antibacterial soap industry, now banned by the FDA, was worth about $1 billion.
In 2014, the antibacterial soap industry was put on notice by the FDA. They were told to prove the safety of their product by 2016 or see their product banned. Despite the fact that manufacturers had turned antibacterial soap into a $1 billion industry and were given two years, they chose not to put together the required proof that they were selling a product that is safe and effective.
And plenty of people are speculating that the reason that the antibacterial soap industry didn’t prove to the FDA that their product is safe is that they know that it isn’t. But rather than simply removing it from the market themselves (or demonstrate its safety), the antibacterial soap industry continued to use the questionable chemicals and sell personal hygiene products that may not be safe until the FDA announced that the products were banned. Even now, antibacterial soap can be legally sold, despite questions about its safety.
Five reasons why you should probably stop using antibacterial soap. https://t.co/oFtVGOMQGK— Smithsonian Magazine (@SmithsonianMag) September 4, 2016
In the aftermath of the announcement that the FDA had banned antibacterial soap, public health professionals have overwhelmingly supported the decision, adding that the chemicals in antibacterial soap can alter the hormones of children and even contribute to the problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
“It has boggled my mind why we were clinging to these compounds, and now that they are gone I feel liberated They had absolutely no benefit but we kept them buzzing around us everywhere. They are in breast milk, in urine, in blood, in babies just born, in dust, in water.”
Recent studies into the chemicals found in antibacterial soap products have resulted in some very disturbing discoveries regarding the harm they can do to animals and likely to humans, too. Among the problems caused by the now-banned products include severe abnormalities having to do with metabolism and reproduction. According to the CDC, the chemicals found in FDA banned antibacterial soap have been found in the bodily waste of 75 percent of U.S. residents.
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