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Antibacterial Soap In Schools?

Antibacterial Soap In Schools?

Schools across the country will be opening their doors in the next few days. With shrinking budgets, and outsize demands for basic supplies, parents are being asked to pick up the bill…and retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding their back-to-school products.

Last year, I wrote a post called, Back To School Surprise: BYO Toilet Paper. I was appalled at the eco-unfriendly requests schools were making on parents:

“Some schools are asking their students to bring antibacterial wipes, zip lock bags, toilet paper, garbage bags, cotton balls, detergent, paper plates and paper towels and tissues.”

While most of these items stomp all over our carbon footprint and add to the destruction of our planet, it is the first item, antibacterial soap that has got me freaked.

In a recent New York Times article, writer Andrew Martin carves a deep dent into the safety issue of the chemical, Triclosan. This chemical is in a range of best-selling consumer products such as, Colgate Total toothpaste and Dial Complete soup.

“The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of the chemical, which was created more than 40 years ago as a surgical scrub for hospitals. It is so prevalent that a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5.”

Half of all liquid hand soaps sold in the U.S. are antibacterial or antimicrobial. The Times reported the process of creating regulations for antiseptic products, including the use of triclosan, began more than 30 years ago, but has been repeatedly delayed. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the FDA last year, asking them to impose a strict deadline to finalize the rule on the regulation of antibacterial soaps.

Antibacterial Soap Is Nasty

Studies show triclosan alters hormone regulation in laboratory animals, and can cause antibiotic resistance, along with an increase in allergies. The F.D.A. has already stated that soap with triclosan is not any more effective than ordinary soap.

Now folks, this chemical added to soap is nasty, nasty stuff. Scientists have been raising concerns about triclosan for years. Yet, the fifth-best-selling liquid hand soap in the country, Dial Complete soap is loaded with it. Turning their nose on science, Dial’s senior VP for research and development said:

“…there was no real evidence showing that triclosan was dangerous for humans. He also said that several recent studies had proved the effectiveness of triclosan in killing germs, and that those studies had been submitted to the federal regulators.”

BYO Antibacterial Soap To School?

To ask our children to bring antibacterial soap to school goes against science. Even more unconscionable, it works to undermine the health of our children. Would you send your child to school with antibacterial soap? What are your thoughts?

The Trouble with Triclosan in Your Soap

Read more: Allergies, Babies, Children, EcoNesting, Family, Healthy Schools, Smart Shopping, , , , , , , , , ,

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.


+ add your own
6:02PM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Just say NO to hand sanitizers and antibacterial anything.

5:57PM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

Can anyone recommend a link to somewhere that I can print off these studies or an informational packet that can be shared with my kids’ school administration and teachers? Last year my daughter’s hands were so raw and cracked from over use of hand sanitizer and the harsh soaps at her school that she would cry and I’d have to cover them in coconut oil and have her sleep with gloves on. What can I do? Does anyone have a suggestion for what would be an alternative that the school would approve of, I can send her own soap if I need to.

7:56AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

Another unnecessary product people have been conned into buying.

9:06AM PST on Jan 1, 2012

While good hand washing technigue is important in transmission of harmful bacteria, using anti bacterial soaps, besides having the chemicals mentioned & possible harmful effects, also causes the same bacteria to develop resistance & in the long term will be more harmful as they will be untreatable. We already have community acquired MRSA( methycillin resistance staph aureus) that at one time was only a hospital acquired infection. It is now in the community. MRSA is not easily treated except with very expensive & potent antibiotics which is the last line of defense. When the bacteria become resistant to this drug- we will be in trouble unless another more powerful drug can be found. That just means more toxic drugs.

12:16PM PST on Dec 7, 2011

Soap and water is best. Antibacterial soaps don't allow the immune system to build up as it should.

12:01PM PST on Dec 7, 2011

Washing well with plain soap and hot water already cleanses the hands of germs. Using soap advertised as antibacterial may do nothing to protect against viruses and prions, puts poison into the environment, your home, and your body, and gives bacteria the means to become resistant to that particular type of poison. The poison manufacturer's profits (and those of their advertisers, retailers, and investors, as well as the cancer treatment industry) and strengthened germ strains are probably the biggest beneficiaries.

The post author points to issues around Triclosan. Hormone disruptor chemicals (remember the consequences of Thalidomide and DDT?) are causing infertility and brain damage in the form of emotional-psychological problems such as learning disabilities, anger management issues, and ADD. From Wikipedia: "Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story is a 1996 book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers. The book chronicles the development of the endocrine disruptor hypothesis by Colborn. Though written for the popular press in narrative form, the book contains a substantial amount of scientific evidence."

Myself, I am very happy with a "Dr. Bronner's" brand concentrated liquid soap, "Baby Mild", consisting simply of saponified organic coconut oil - perfect for children and anyone with allergenic sensitivities. After dilution, filling a 4 oz bottle that fits well into my backpa

8:19PM PST on Nov 18, 2011

too little effective use of anti-bacterial products only makes the germs, viruses, etc. more resistant rather than destroying them.

either use the product well or don't use it at all.

11:26AM PDT on Sep 18, 2011


11:26AM PDT on Sep 18, 2011


8:01AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

Thank you

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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