Use of Anti-bacterial soap is on the rise as approximately 75 percent of all liquid soaps and 30 percent of bar soaps are now antibacterial in the U.S. Antibacterial soap can come in the form of the hand held sanitizers but is now even more common on body soaps and body washes. People seem to be overly worried about catching colds or the flu, but is it all really necessary? A study shines some light that it might not be.
One study, from The Journal of Community Health in 2003, followed people over 238 households of New York City for nearly a year. The study found that compared to regular soap, antibacterial soaps don’t provide any more protection against the cold or flu. The study concluded that there was no difference in the amount of microbes on the hands of those using antibacterial soap vs. those using common soap.
So if it’s not that effective, does it pose any dangers? The answer is yes, if it contains the commonly found substance Triclosan. Triclosan is a substance used to destroy and suppress bacterial and fungal growth. It is commonly used in anti-bacterial soap to slow the spread of bacteria. The problem with this is that it slows the growth of good bacteria as well as the bad. Even worse, it is part of a compound that has been suspected to cause cancer in people, although it has not been proven.
Triclosan can be commonly found in deodorants, gels, and other commercially made soaps.
In addition to the above problems, Triclosan has been linked to a number of environmental issues. After bathing the chemical will leak through the drain which eventually gets back into the water system or out in nature in meadows, creeks and lakes. This causes damage to the environment by harming the microorganisms and removing parts of the food chain. Sewage treatment seems unable to stop most of the chemicals from leaking out. Finally, there is the problem of the anti-bacterial soap causing more and more resistant strains of bacteria.
With the information provided above, it seems that a natural soap that does not have Triclosan would be the best way to go for both your health and the environment.