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What's Really in Your Hand Soap? What's Really in Your Hand Soap?

What's Really in Your Hand Soap?

by Siobhan O'Connor

April 11, 2010
You probably don't want to know, because chances are good that it contains something kind of awful called triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial/antifungal that is so widely used that it is found in the urine of 75 percent of the population according to the CDC, and has also been found in human breast milk. This despite there being truckloads of scientific data that says it is not safe for human and environmental exposure.

Triclosan has been fingered in the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria, it's a human allergen, and it's a known and potent hormone disruptor capable of wreaking havon on animal and plant life—as well as human bodies. It can mess with thyroid function and reproductive hormones, which is bad news for all of us.

The good news is, concern about it is mounting, and The Washington Post reported yesterday that the FDA—which generally doesn't seem to like to get in the way when it comes to personal care products—might be doing something about it. Meanwhile, environmentalists, activists, and state policymakers are trying to get the FDA and EPA to ban it from market in instances where it isn't absolutely necessary (such as by surgeons scrubbing in—which was its original intended use).

In the meantime, you can keep yourself away from the stuff by checking ingredient lists and using simple soaps and hot water to wash your hands.

Photo
(CC) by Flickr user Faye Andrie.

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