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Chances are when you’ve washed your hands you’ve come in contact with an anti-bacterial soap. But now the ever popular liquid soap is being banned by the FDA for having provided no conclusive evidence that it aids in the killing of germs. It may even have other adverse health effects as well.

A Clean Slate

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that products claiming they are anti-bacterial or anti-microbial are false and are no better than just regular soap and warm water. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research even stated that “some data suggests that anti-bacterial ingredients may do more harm than good.”

The ban was proposed in 2013, but they gave manufacturers three years to supply evidence of their claims. What they found was inconclusive, unsatisfactory evidence and some companies had even ignored supplying evidence altogether.

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Any soap that uses one of a set of 19 particular chemicals must be removed, with one of these chemicals being triclosan. Triclosan was developed in the 1960s for doctors to use as an anti-microbial and eventually added to liquid soaps in the 1980s as a form of protection from germs. Researchers now believe it could be linked to hormonal disruption and other adverse health problems.

The Dirty Details

Long-term exposure to triclosan has been said to alter microbiomes in human guts. The problem with this is that in order to kill the bacteria, sublethal doses of triclosan are added to the soap but it needs to be in contact with the organism for longer than it takes to wash your hands.

As a result, this drives up the antibiotic resistance of the germs and bacteria so they can overcome lower concentrations of it. Obviously, this is a cause for concern with scientists worldwide if the sale of these products continues.

The FDA has deferred on making a decision for one year regarding three other potentially unsafe chemicals; benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) so that the companies can attempt to develop and submit new data.

The new ruling from the FDA means that phasing out these anti-bacterial and anti-microbial soaps with these 19 chemicals must be done by next year. This goes to show that there really is no better substitute to the old classic of a bar of soap and water.

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