The basic components of a soap is a base and an acid. A soap cleans the surface by decreasing the surface tension of water and adhering to dirt particles, oil, bacteria, and viruses. Regular soaps are able to do their job well. Then, why have antibacterial soaps become so popular for home use?
Earlier, these soaps were used only in hospitals. The obsessive compulsive behavior of most Americans to stay clean and devoid of any germs have rendered a place for them in their shelves at home.
The major antibacterial agent is triclosan which is known for its bacteria-fighting properties. Triclosan is used in many home cleaning products. These products are sold off as soaps and liquids. Due to the wide acceptance of antibacterial products, the list has now increased. Most of the cleaning agents, laundry detergents, trash bags, and sponges are new additions to the list.
Where does the issue arise?
The problems arise from its excessive and unnecessary use. The main chemical acts by killing the bacteria. That includes killing of good as well as bad bacteria. The organisms or bacteria that are not susceptible to triclosan are left with no competition in its ecosystem, and they mutate or replicate for its survival. Mutated bacteria develop resistance to most antibiotics and even antibacterial agents, leading to serious health complications. Triclosan is also known to kill human cells as well.
What about viral infections
Most of the infections are caused by viruses and not bacteria. One of the drawbacks is that it does not provide any protection against viral infections. To enhance the immune system of a baby, it is said that during the initial years, it is best to expose him/her to normal germs that inhabit the house. If the house is clean and no germs exist, the baby may not be exposed to such organisms. Non-exposure to normal bacteria diminishes the chances of a baby fighting the bacteria. Studies have proved that triclosan reacts with chlorine in water to form chloroform which is carcinogenic to humans, and an over-use can lead to disorder of the endocrine system.
How does triclosan affect the body
The mechanism of triclosan in human body is threefold. It enters the bloodstream and is easily absorbed by the fat cells of our body. The concentration over a period of time increases as the exposure continues. A study conducted on bullfrogs suggested serious health implications. It concluded by stating that triclosan disrupts the thyroid hormone function resulting in ...
- increased activity in the brain cells associated with uncontrolled cell growth.
- abnormal weight loss.
- accelerated hind-limb growth.
Its use has been impacting our environment as well. The triclosan that is disposed or washed down, eventually ends up in the waterway or the public water supply. This chemical cannot be neutralized by the water treatment plants. It remains as a sediment in the river causing harm to its natural inhabitants. Thus, triclosan has proved to create an imbalance in the ecosystem.
We cannot deny the fact that antibacterial soaps are useful. But what we need to know is whether or not they are doing more harm than good? Where health is concerned, you need to make a choice. Regulatory steps have to be taken by the federal agencies to curb its spread and use. Let it be restricted for hospital use and other areas prevalent to infection.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.