Although natural health news sites have long pointed out the disadvantages, and even dangers, of antibacterial soaps and those hand wash gels, it is only now that the FDA have taken action with the Federal Government banning many of the chemicals which have traditionally been used in antibacterial soaps.
The FDA have now said that manufacturers have failed to show that antibacterial soaps are safe or that they kill germs.
Good old fashioned plain soap and water
Washing with water and plain soap has always been the most effective way to clean the hands and avoid infections.
Triclosan and triclocarban equal T for Toxic
Up until very recently, parents, teachers and health practitioners thought they were doing the right thing by insisting on the use of hand sanitizers and/or antibacterial soaps but, as with so many other modern innovations, toxins are involved.
Studies carried out by the Arizona State University
found that their use means that the "toxic two" and the two main ingredients - triclosan and triclocarban
- when washed down plumbing outlets first collect in wastewater sludge before being transferred to soils and natural water environments, where they can persist for months and even years.
In addition triclocarban and triclosan have been found to disrupt hormones, could cause cancer and even spur the growth of drug-resistant superbugs. The levels of triclosan found in humans are increasing every year.
And there is more...
There are many additional chemicals that were historically used in soaps and washes and which have been under scrutiny for some time. The good news is that many companies have already removed these from their relevant products with the FDA giving (those who have not) more time to provide data on three additional chemicals, which are used in most antibacterial soaps sold today.
But why take the risk?
Unfortunately, some consumers may still believe that antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs even though data suggests that antibacterial chemical ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.
The FDA decision does not apply to hand sanitizers
There are alcohol-free hand sanitizers, but none of them appear to be any safer or more effective than those that are alcohol based. One common ingredient in alcohol-free hand sanitizers is benzalkonium chloride
which not even the FDA has been able to find safe.
Nevertheless, if you are unable to use soap and water - for example when travelling or in a hospital situation - we can share our recipe for making your own natural and safe hand sanitizers
for such occasions.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons vodka (acts as a preservative)
- 1 teaspoon Aloe Vera juice (a softening agent)
- ½ teaspoon vegetable glycerine (also a softening agent)
4 essential oils – 2 drops each of Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, Lemon and Rosemary.
- Glass measuring jug
- Plastic funnel
- Several small and dark bottles – plastic (for children) or glass (for adults) – with spray attachment closing devices. Dark containers are needed because essential oils are light sensitive.
- Place all ingredients into the glass jug and mix together carefully before using the funnel to pour into your plastic or glass bottles.
- Secure with the spray attachment lid and there you have your supply of absolutely safe and natural hand sanitizers – always ready to use.
What is living on our hands?
While research has found that women have a greater range of different types of bacteria on the palms of their hands than men, they also found that human hands harbor far higher numbers of bacteria species than previously thought – typically 150 different species. In a study of 102 human hands
, they found more than 4 700 different bacteria species with only 5 species common to all the hands in the study. Even the right and left palms of the same individual shared an average of only 17% of the same bacteria types. On average, women had 50% more bacterial species on their hands than men.
Dr. Valerie Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
in the UK, said science still had much to learn about how bacteria interact with the human body.
She said: “Most are likely to be neutral, just living there without doing any harm or good. It is thought that having such flora on our hands is probably beneficial because the bacteria occupy niches which are then unavailable to pathogens”.