Last Friday, America's Food and Drug Administration banned the use of 19 different antibacterial chemicals in consumer soap, as reported by The New York Times. The move, sure to cause controversy among devotees of squeaky clean soaps, follows a major public health outcry against use of chemicals such as Triclosan and Triclocarban in liquid and bar soaps and hand santisers. Many scientists and public health experts have been warning against the use of these kind of sanitisers for some time, arguing that the risks far outweigh the benefits. Not only are antibacterial products bad for the environment (they take a long time to break down), it's suggested that they mess with hormone functions and are a leading cause of antibiotic resistant infections.
Moreover, scientists have discovered trace elements of these chemicals absolutely everywhere - from breast milk to dust and water - so they're understandably applauding the move. The FDA has given companies one year to remove the banned chemicals from their products, with major companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble already starting the process after receiving consumer backlash. The FDA is also studying the effects of three common active ingredients: alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride, and have requested that companies provide data before they rule out these chemicals, too. We can only hope Australia follows suit soon.