Monday, January 12, 2009

Reasons NOT to use things that are Anti-Bacterial

Many of us have homes full of Anti-Bacterial items. The list of new items coming online in this genre increase daily. In fact, it's becoming increasingly hard to find soap without anti-bacterial additives. I've also noticed that many grocery stores are adding dispensers to various sections of their store.

The question here is, are these things good for us to use? Are they beneficial or harmful? Do they truly work?

  • According to the Food and Drug Administration, these items are no more effective than soap and water for preventing colds and flu. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, therefore completely unaffected by anti-bacterial soaps. This means that no matter how quickly you "sanitize" your hands after touching a person with the cold you may still get the bug.

  • The anti-bacterial products have been shown, in laboratory testing, to promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Which means that the more we use these items the harder it will be to make our bacterial infections go away!

  • The chemicals used as the primary germ-killers in these items, Triclosan and Triclocarban, have been found in our lakes and streams, wastewater and breastmilk. Wastewater processing provides sludge for our crops. This may mean that our food contains these chemicals. They have already been found to negatively effect thyroid function in frogs and growth issues in fish. The human effect has yet to be announced.

Now, I'm not trying to frighten anyone. I just want people to consider the things they are using, especially on a regular basis. If regular, old soap and water that we've been using for years with little to no side-effects works, why use another chemical to replace it?

We expose ourselves regularly to chemicals that haven't been put through their paces and checked thoroughly. Then, several years down the road, we learn that these chemicals are harming us. To me, that equates to less chemicals are better for me and the environment.

Spend a few extra moments checking your purchases for these offensive chemicals - Triclosan and Triclocarban. They can be found in everything from soap and deodorant to cutting boards and shoes. By the way, there are other alternatives!

  • Alcohol based products
  • Plant based products, such as, tea tree oil, sage, and elm bark
  • Steam cleaning

Even natural or chemical-free products can be over used. For your sake, and everyone around you, please consider limiting your use of these anti-bacterial items and solutions unless you're in a pinch or need them to clear up an infection.

Remember that bacteria exist everywhere. They are a natural part of the world and if treated properly the good bacteria will manage the offensive stuff on it's own, without our help!

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