A new statement from over 200 scientists and medical professionals has concluded that antimicrobial or antibacterial soaps do not provide any extra health benefits, and in fact could be causing more harm than good to both consumer and the environment.
The news comes after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last year that 19 different antimicrobial chemicals, including triclosan and triclocarban, were not effective and should not be used in over-the-counter consumer hygiene products.
“I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps. But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse,” saidÂ Arlene Blum ofÂ Green Science Policy Institute.
In addition to being used in soaps and hygiene products, antimicrobials are found in a variety of everyday products including paints, exercise mats, flooring, apparel, food storage containers, home textiles, electronics, kitchenware, school supplies, and countertops.
Although the report acknowledges that antimicrobials can be useful in certain products, such as paint, they also point out that any health claims about products with antimicrobials are largely invalid.
“People think antimicrobial hand soaps offer better protection against illness. But generally, antimicrobial soaps perform no better than plain soap and water,” addedÂ Barbara Sattler fromÂ the University of San Francisco.
The reports by the scientists concluded that non-medical uses of antimicrobials should be reduced, with Rolf Halden at Arizona State University explaining that, “Environmental and human exposures to triclosan and triclocarban are widespread, affecting pregnant women, developing fetuses, and breast-feeding babies.”
“We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals.”