Sunday, May 16, 2010

Should we be using Anti-bacterial hand cleaners

WE have become a little to germophobic. We are buying boat-loads of antibacterial hand sanitizers. Schools are putting hand sanitizers on the list of items needed for the start of the school year. Sanitizing wipes are stationed around the grocery stores as you shop.

So, what is the benefit and risk f using these hand sanitizers?

The benefit is that you can use these products almost anywhere. They are convenient. They will kill about 98% of the bacteria and viruses on contact.

What are some of the known risk?

The active ingredients do not kill all the bacterial an viruses, leaving the strong to grow stronger. This can lead to potentially greater numbers of resistant strains of the bacteria and viruses.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterial chemicals commonly added to consumer products. In laboratory studies, they have been shown to disrupt hormones and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or "superbugs."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls antibiotic resistance one of the most pressing health issues facing the United States. Infections caused by bacteria with resistance to at least one antibiotic have been estimated to kill more than 60,000 hospitalized patients each year.

In recent studies, Triclocarban has been shown to artificially amplify the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, which could promote the growth of breast and prostate cancer.

Surveys of the U.S. population from ages 6 to over 65 have found residues of triclosan in over three-quarters of people. these chemicals are now commonly found in our streams and waterways. High levels can be found in sludge from waste-water treatment plant. With these chemicals in our environment, there may be a detrimental impact on fish habitat. The impact on the food-chain could be devastating in the long run. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin; open cuts, breaks in the skin; nose, mouth and eye after using the products on the hands. Triclosan and triclocarban have been found in breast-milk of nursing mothers. Animal studies have shown both of these chemicals can interfere with hormones critical for normal development and function of the brain and reproductive system. Triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone and testosterone, which could result in altered behavior, learning disabilities, or infertility.

“If the ‘germ theory of disease’ were correct, there’d be no one living to believe it.” - B.J. PALMER

We don't always have the opportunity to wash our hands with hot soapy water. So, these hand sanitizers are a part of our environment now. Once let out of the bottle, it is very difficult to put the genie back.

Most bacteria are beneficial, only a small portion of all bacteria are pathogenic (disease causing). Pathogenic bacteria are opportunistic, they are constantly in the background waiting for a weakened host to infect. Many of these infections are caused because we have become out of balance with the normal beneficial bacteria. Taking antibiotics for a simple cold wipes out the normal flora (beneficial bacteria), giving the opportunistic pathogenic bacteria a foothold to grow. Growing unchecked, these infections can cause disease.

How do we decrease the impact of these chemicals?

  • Avoid anything labeled "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial" which contains triclosan or triclocarban, such as soaps, gels, cleansers, toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products.
  • Avoid other "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial" items such as cutting boards, towels, shoes, clothing and bedding.
  • Use regular soap and hot water to clean effectively.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

When you are in a situation that requires to to use one of these hand sanitizers, remember to wash your hands with hot soapy water as soon as possible. avoid putting your hands to the mouth or eyes when you have used these products.


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