Hand-washing: How Clean Is Too Clean?

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opened a comment period on a rule that would require manufacturers to prove the efficacy of soaps and body washes containing antibacterial compounds. 

As controversy over the widespread use of antibacterial chemicals in consumer products grows, the FDA noted the following concerns, among others: 

  • There is no research indicating that the use of antibacterial soaps, body washes or other products are any more effective at preventing illness or disease than plain soap and water.
  • Products with antibacterial properties may cause harm by increasing the prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Active ingredients in antibacterial products, including triclosan and triclocarban, may interfere with hormone communication in the body. Current animal studies show that these ingredients are capable of disrupting the metabolic and reproductive processes.
  • The proposed FDA rule would require manufacturers to prove the safety of their products and provide data showing that antibacterial agents are clearly more beneficial than plain soap and water. 

The proposed rule does not cover the use of hand sanitizers. In fact, the FDA recommends the using alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available for hand-washing. Unlike antibacterial chemicals, alcohol kills germs on contact without creating drug resistance. 

Prevention of disease is important, and promoting commercial use of potentially damaging compounds is dangerous. If you are injured by a hazardous product, seek reputable legal counsel in North Carolina.

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