Antibacterials = Antihealth?

Ever since the little plastic bottles with jelly-like stuff promising to keep us ultra clean and healthy began appearing I have been skeptical.  Really?  Ordinary soap and water isn’t good enough?  Really?  Paper dust on my fingers is going to make me sick?  Really?  We’ve begun to hear some doubts about these claims in the past few years, but it seems to have finally gotten some lead time…

After years of mounting concerns that the antibacterial chemicals that go into everyday items like soap and toothpaste are doing more harm than good, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was requiring soap manufacturers to demonstrate that the substances were safe or to take them out of the products altogether.

The proposal was applauded by public health experts, who for years have urged the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk scrambling hormones in children and promoting drug-resistant infections, among other things. Producers argue that the substances have long been proved to be safe.

“It’s a big deal that they are taking this on,” said Rolf Halden, the director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University, who has been tracking the issue for years. “These antimicrobials have taken on a life all of their own,”

NY Times: Sabrina Tavernise

And that’s not all.  Not only do soaps and toothpastes promise health through bacteria bombing there are other issues with the stuff:

Tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of toiletries like facial scrubs and toothpastes are slipping through water treatment plants and turning up by the tens of millions in the Great Lakes. There, fish and other aquatic life eat them along with the pollutants they carry — which scientists fear could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.

Yes, there is such a thing as being too clean…