I was recently reading the latest newsletter from the David Suzuki Foundation. If you’re Canadian, you know who he is. If you’re not, David Suzuki is like the Al Gore of Canada, only he’s been in the public eye supporting the environment since the 70’s and no one questions the science he presents because it’s always sound. Anyway, the newsletter had a great article which sums up why most antibacterial soaps and cleaners are harmful.
With the H1N1 scare going around, I’ve noticed people are going overboard with the hand sanitizer. Also, with a new baby, I keep seeing ads advising people to wipe all sorts of surfaces that your baby comes into contact with (eg., toys) with a certain brand of antibacterial wipe.
Personally, I never use the stuff because I feel that they’re worse than the bugs going around. And, if you’ve got a cat, antibacterial cleaners really make no sense to me. Your cats rub up against you, you pat them with your “sanitized” hands and they lick the stuff off of your hands. I could never give an adequate, scientific explanation to people why they should stop using antibacterial cleaners, other than the increased resistance of bacteria to these products and a general feeling that any sort of chemical you rub into your hands is not a good idea.
However, thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation, I now have a better explanation other than my gut tells me it’s wrong. Here it is:
“Triclosan is one of the most common antibacterial agents in household cleaners and personal-care products. It creates a known carcinogen, dioxin, as a by-product. Dioxin causes skin disorders and liver problems, and impairs reproductive functions and the immune system (to name a few effects).”
Notice the reference to impairing the immune system. This is important to note because I read a friend of a friend’s Facebook post saying that they used antibacterial cleaners because they had a compromised immune system and didn’t want to catch anyone’s cold. The David Suzuki Foundation article also mentioned that studies show that hand sanitizers aren’t any more effective than washing your hands with soap and water.
Here’s where to read more and get recipes on making your own hand sanitizer: