Antibacterial products doing more harm than good, scientists say

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We all know that proper hygiene starts with hand washing – but are you doing your body — and the environment — more harm than good?

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Plain old soap and water is the best way to get clean.

 You are if you’re using antibacterial soap, it seems. Scientists and doctors have long warned that antibacterial soap is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Hospitals are increasingly seeing cases of MRSA  (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) crop up, with sometimes deadly results.  MRSA — and other health problems — are also becoming more commonplace in the general public.

Scientists are linking this, in large part, to our widespread use of antibacterial and antimicrobial products in the home. These were compounds once reserved largely for use by the medical field, but manufacturers started using the technology in everything from shower curtains and clothing to hand soaps and household cleaners.

They’re also showing up in water supplies. There, they present at least two problems. The first, according to an article by Water Online, is that they can be ingested as a pollutant, causing health problems. The second is that these agents can change the microorganisms in the water — creating bacteria that’s resistant to treatment, and also upsetting the natural microbial balance in the water.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration weighed in, declaring that manufacturers “have to show that it’s both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they have to take it off the shelves in the next few years.”  

The best thing you can do for yourself, your family and the environment, scientists say, is to stop using anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agents altogether. Numerous studies have shown that plain old soap and water works just fine at keeping you clean. Hand sanitizer that’s just alcohol based — no antibacterial agents — is your best option when soap and water aren’t available.

 So the next time you’re shopping, choose plain old soap over products that contain antibacterial agents (or microbeads).

Doing so could be the most healthy choice you’ve made in years.