You may have heard that the FDA banned certain antibacterial agents, including triclosan and 18 other ingredients, from use in consumer anti-bacterial hand soaps.
That's because research failed to prove that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are safe or better at preventing the spread of germs than proper hand washing with plain soap and water.
Seventh Generation has never used triclosan in our hand wash products because we don’t use ingredients that may have a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, unless we can mitigate the concern ourselves.
The Dirt on Triclosan
Even though manufacturers will have to stop using triclosan in soap, it's still used as an ingredient in some sanitizers, wipes, toothpaste, toys, and other products with "antibacterial" qualities. We've always chosen to avoid it in our hand wash products because:
- It doesn't work any better than plain soap. When it comes to preventing illness, removing bacteria from your hands is key. The FDA, CDC, and other independent studies have found that you are able to remove bacteria from your hands, and prevent the spread of illness, just as well by simply washing your hands for 20 seconds.
- It may affect the environment. Triclosan and its relative triclocarban are found in 60% of America's streams and rivers. They also end up in the soil and water that's used to grow our food.
- It may be linked to antibiotic-resistant "superbugs". Chemicals like triclosan may lead to anti-biotic resistance. This can make medical treatments like antibiotics less effective.
- It's not keeping us healthy, but it may be doing harm. Triclosan has been linked to changes in hormones including thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone in animals, including mammals. That's a red flag for humans, especially since we're exposed to so much of it.
As you can see triclosan is very worth of an FDA ban, we can clearly go without this questionable ingredient in our hand soap since it can harm our health and the environment.
Keep Your Family Healthy Without Triclosan
Fortunately, triclosan isn't necessary for avoiding everyday germs and illness. Here's how you can keep your family healthy without it:
- Cover your cough: Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel the length of a room — yuck! Prevent this by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have one, cough into your sleeve or the crook of your arm. Even little kids can learn to cover a sneeze with their sleeve. This simple lesson will go a long way toward keeping colds and flu at bay during the school year.
- Wash your hands: Both the FDA and CDC agree that you should wash your hands with plain soap and water for 20 seconds. It's the best way to keep from getting sick and stop the spread of germs. Handwashing works by loosening dirt and germs, so they can be swept away, but most of us don't wash long enough or scrub enough to get the full benefits. Lather up with Seventh Generation hand soap and hum "Happy Birthday" twice while you scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, fingers, and under your nails. You can find more handwashing tips for the whole family here.