Warning: Your Favorite Antibiotic Soap Could Be Dangerous to Use—Here’s Why

Is your hand soap putting you—and the environment—in danger?

caifas/ShutterstockIs that antibacterial soap by your basin living up to your expectations? Recent research has raised concerns about both the efficacy and safety of common chemicals in various soap products, and unnecessary risk given that antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are no more effective than regular soap and water. Now, the “Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban,” a declaration signed by over 200 scientists and medical professionals from around the world, has come out in the current issue of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ flagship journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and it says that both chemicals are not only ineffective in protecting against bacteria, but potentially harmful to people and the environment.

Rolf Halden, director of the Arizona State University Biodesign Center for Environmental Security and lead author of the Florence Statement, sets out the warnings of triclosan dangers in a press release: “[This] is a case study of the many things that can go wrong when formulating consumer products. To start out with, it’s a chemical that contains dioxin—a potent toxic carcinogen. When you use the chemical, it is mostly ineffective in protecting from germs, and instead actually may increase microbial risks by producing bacteria that are cross-resistant to antibiotics your doctor prescribes to save lives. It increases susceptibility to allergies. When released into water or soil, it persists for long periods of time and forms additional dioxins. When it is burned, it produces the most toxic forms of dioxin known.”

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned triclosan and triclocarban (plus 17 other additives) from over-the-counter antiseptic soap products. But that doesn’t mean our soap is safe. “I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps,” reveals Arlene Blum, PhD, Executive Director of Green Science Policy Institute. “But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse.”

And despite being banned from antibacterial soap, both chemicals are still found in a large number of daily use building, office, and household products—from phones and credit cards to underwear and yoga mats. So if you want to keep yourself, your family, and the planet safe, your best option is to go for products bearing the EWG VERIFIED™ mark. While you’re at it, stop buying these disposable items to save money and the environment. Looking for more ways to go green? Here are 25 swaps to reduce your carbon footprint.

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