We are in the midst of a serious antibacterial hysteria. From soap and toothpaste to playing cards and kitchen ware, it is a challenge to find a product that is not currently available in a version treated with antibiotics. Most of these products are based on an antibacterial agent called Triclosan, which makes objects hyper-hygienic.
Although it might seem wise to destroy germs everywhere, according to experts, keeping any antibacterial product in your home is not a good idea. First, living in an ultra-sterile environment is, surprisingly, quite unhealthy. A theory called the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ says that when our bodies cease to meet a lot of bacteria and viruses in our daily lives, our immune system stops the exertion it needs to stay active. When this happens, we face an increased risk of allergies, asthma and other diseases.
There is also the issue of Triclosan itself. Exposure to this synthetic pesticide, which is commonly found in the urine of 75% of all those tested, was linked to cancer, hormonal disorders, liver damage and other health problems. Triclosan is a serious pollutant; once in the environment, it breaks down into highly toxic chemicals, including a form of dioxin and carcinogenic chloroform. Also, there is evidence that it could contribute to the creation of new supergerms which are resistant to antibiotics.
Clearly, Triclosan is not a pesticide that you would want in your homes or in your body; nor is it a substance that anyone would really need to practice good hygiene. Studies have shown that simple hand washing with regular soap is just as effective in removing bacteria as using an antibacterial soap. Many groups, including the American Medical Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility (Doctors for Social Responsibility), came to be against the use of Triclosan.
How to keep Triclosan away from your home
In order to keep away from Triclosan, avoid using any medication that is labeled as antibacterial. Also, read warnings on everything from socks to personal care products and even to bedpans for babies, as well as cleaning products. Skip every product that contains Triclosan or claims to be antibacterial or to fight odors.
Are you still worried by germs?
Wash your hands frequently and properly. After soaping your hands, rub them vigorously for 20 seconds; pay attention to your nails, wrists and spaces between your fingers.
Do you have children? Teach them to do the same. These habits will help them stay healthy at school, at nursery and other places where germs are abundant. Studies show that washing hands frequently results in 45% fewer cases of respiratory problems, without any need for pesticides.