We've been saying for a long-time that overusing antibacterial compounds (in soaps, hand sanitizers, and other consumer products) was a bad idea. Not only do they breed super-bacteria that can't be killed as easily, do nothing against viruses, and kill helpful 'nonpathogenic' bacteria, but a 2005 FDA paper highlighted that it has found "no medical studies that showed a link between a specific consumer antibacterial product and a decline in infection rates."
The FDA is still deciding whether to ban some or all of these compounds from consumer products, but in the meantime, scientists are reporting to the American Chemical Society that the chemical compounds found in antibacterial products have found their way into pregnant women and their fetuses, and this poses potential health risks.
“We looked at the exposure of pregnant women and their fetuses to triclosan and triclocarban, two of the most commonly used germ-killers in soaps and other everyday products,” says Benny Pycke, Ph.D, a research scientist at Arizona State University (ASU). “We found triclosan in all of the urine samples from the pregnant women that we screened. We also detected it in about half of the umbilical cord blood samples we took, which means it transfers to fetuses. Triclocarban was also in many of the samples.”
The problem is that there is a growing body of evidence showing that the compounds can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals and potentially in humans. Some research even suggests that the antibacterial additives could contribute to antibiotic resistance, a growing public health problem, says Pycke.
Good news, bad news: Our bodies are good at removing these compounds from our systems, but if you are constantly exposed (and these things are everywhere, including 2,000 everyday consumer products), you could be topping up, so to speak, and keeping your exposure roughly constant.
Some are already taking action. The state of Minnesota has already decided to ban Triclosan starting in January 2017.
For more information, please read Katherine's article on: Why you should wash your hands of all antibacterial soaps.