The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is taking a closer look at the marketing and use of antibacterial soaps. These products, which contain chemical ingredients such as triclosan and triclocarban may be creating unnecessary risks as there is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.
"New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits,” says Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA. There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.
On December 16, the agency has issued a proposed rule that would require manufacturers to provide more substantial data to support the the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. The new rule would only pertain to consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. Hand sanitizers, wipes and other products used in health care operations would not be effected.
The Environment Protection Agency is also involved in the review as some of the chemicals used are regulated as pesticides, as triclosan is categorized. Under existing regulations, pesticides are re-evaluated every 15 years. More on the EPA review of triclosan can be found on their Web site.