FDA microbiologist Colleen Rogers said in a statement on Monday:
“New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits,”
Based on this the FDA is giving manufacturers until the end of 2014 to prove that the benefits of using antibacterial soaps and hand washes outweigh the risk.
The risk seems to be that they are, or may be, contributing to antibiotic resistance.
Okay. First. These hand washes are cheap for the most part, and those that do contain triclosan, the target of the FDA investigation, do not contain that much of it.
Second, regarding benefit and risk. Nobody I know washes their hands properly everytime they wash them. Nobody stands there and gives their hands a three minute wash going under rings, throughly washing the webbing between their fingers etc. Children are incapable of doing so even if they wanted to.
If we all washed our hands properly at all times there would be no need for antibacterial hand washes and soaps, but we don’t. Often we can’t. Rest rooms with empty soap dispensers, airplane washrooms…the list of places it’s impossible to wash your hands properly in is a long one.
Now I’m all for hand hygiene. It is the cheapest and easiest way to prevent the spread of disease, but for the times when you can’t wash your hands properly antibacterial soaps and washes are a useful way of assisting in the prevention of disease.
There will be those that say this wasn’t an issue before the advent of such soaps, and I agree, but if you look back even a couple of decades we did not do the travelling we do now. We spent most of our time in our home town, so used to the bugs that circulated there that they had little effect on us.
People more often than not worked local to home, in the community they lived in. Not so these days. My child’s teacher travels 54 miles to work each day, he comes from a big city north of us. That city has an airport and numerous hotels etc. He is aware of the difference this makes to his health and to the health of the children he teaches. He is fastidious about hygiene, especially when he’s feeling a bit under par.
The commensals, (the bugs that we live with that do us no harm) in our environment are no longer the predominant germs that we have to deal with. Anti bacterial soaps and hand washes help us nullify the effects of other contaminants we are not so used to.
Any parent is already aware that their child is a germ factory, and they are also aware that during school breaks their kids are healthier. The reason for this is simple. We ensure our kids do wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, and they have less contact with ‘outside’ germs brought in by staff and other kids etc. If those same children were given enough time to wash their hands properly during the school day, they would be ill less often.
If the day ever comes when everyone washes their hands properly we will not need antibacterial soaps and washes, until then banning them seems a rather backward step.(source)
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!