Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of soaps that contain certain anti-bacterial chemicals. The decision cites evidence that the chemical industry had failed to prove that these anti-bacterial soaps were safe to use over the long term or more effective than ordinary soap and water.
One of the key culprits is Triclosan. Triclosan has been added to many consumer products—including clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys—to prevent bacterial contamination. Because of that, people’s long-term exposure to triclosan is higher than previously thought, raising concerns about the potential risks associated with the use of this ingredient over a lifetime.
In addition, laboratory studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics.
The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been closely collaborating on scientific and regulatory issues related to triclosan. This joint effort will help to ensure government-wide consistency in the regulation of this chemical. The two agencies are reviewing the effects of triclosan from two different perspectives.
The EPA regulates the use of triclosan as a pesticide, and is in the process of updating its assessment of the effects of triclosan when it is used in pesticides. The FDA’s focus is on the effects of triclosan when it is used by consumers on a regular basis in hand soaps and body washes. By sharing information, the two agencies will be better able to measure the exposure and effects of triclosan and how these differing uses of triclosan may affect human health.
The FDA’s rule doesn’t yet apply to three chemicals (benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol). Manufacturers are developing and planning to submit new safety and effectiveness data for these ingredients.
With the exception of those three ingredients that are still under study, all products that use the other 19 active ingredients will need to change their formulas or they will no longer be available to consumers. Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rule.
This rule doesn’t apply to hand sanitizers. In June 2016, the FDA issued a proposed rule requesting additional scientific data from manufacturers showing that the active ingredients in hand sanitizers are generally recognized as safe and effective to reduce bacteria on skin. They hope to learn about the difference between consumer hand sanitizers and consumer antibacterial soaps.
The antibacterial question has been looming for sometime, largely as a result of the impacts on the development of superbugs. But this shift may have implications on your cleaning routines at home. Here at Sabine’s New House we always advocate for healthier and more natural alternatives so this move is a welcome sign. If you are still wanting to keep germs at bay, there are two natural ingredients to look for; Grapefruit Seed Extract and Tea Tree Oil.
HelloGlow has a great recipe that we’d recommend made of Vinegar, Grapefruit Peel, and either grapefruit seed extract or tea tree extract. A great natural all-purpose cleaner with antibacterial properties.
Try it out and let us know how you like the cleaner in the comments below.