Soap Safety

soapPeople have been using anti-bacterial soaps in homes, offices and schools for many years. So the fact that question as to whether or not they are completely safe has arisen, is somewhat worrisome, especially for the manufacturers.

Indeed, just earlier this week the FDA came up with a proposal that would force these soap manufacturers to bring clinical studies as proof that their soaps are not only safe, but also more effective than regular soaps vis-à-vis illness prevention and infection spreading.   As FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Janet Woodcock said,   “due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in anti-bacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using anti-bacterial soap to balance any potential risk.”

The FDA is doing this in an attempt to stem overuse of germ-killing chemicals.   The problem is that studies are now suggesting that long-term exposure to key ingredients in these products (such as triclosan and ticlocarban) can actually result in hormone imbalances and can lead to weight gain, amongst other hormone-based problems. Indeed, according to medical director of infection control and antimicrobial stewardship at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Dr. Emily Landon, triclosan found in human urine has been linked to a higher body mass index.

However, from the other side, the American Cleaning Institute, there is “perplexity” about what the FDA is proposing.   They cite 24 studies showing the benefits of using anti-bacterial soap.   If these new standards were to go ahead however, it would impact up to 2,000 products.

Ultimately, if the soaps are proven not safe and/or not effective, then the FDA will be doing a real service in this measure.

Rachel Thornbee

When it comes to politics and deal making in the streets of Brooklyn, Rachel is on top of it. With a degree in political science and another in business leadership, Rachel can discuss the inner workings of the system with the best of them. We are excited to have Rachel joining Gowanus Lounge, reporting on the great goals and challenges of Brooklyn's political infrastructure. Contact Rachel at rachelthornbee(at)