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In a world where illness lurks in every bathroom stall and on every place, antibacterial soaps give people a sense of control, a sudsy security blanket. But not anymore. “US – FDA Bans Antibacterial Chemicals in Soaps”. Companies can no longer market hand soaps containing several common antibacterial compounds, the Food and Drug Administration announced on September 2, 2016. The FDA instituted the soap ban, which includes the widely used antibacterial chemicals triclosan and triclocarban, citing questions about the antibacterials’ safety for long-term use. In addition, there is no evidence these chemicals add any benefit to people’s heath beyond those of regular soap. The new ban applies to 19 chemicals, and only applies to soaps that are meant to be lathered and washed off with water. In its ruling, the FDA said this would apply to soaps containing any of the 19 chemicals, including triclosan, found in liquid soaps, and triclocarbon, found in soap bars. Which products containing Triclosan are available in our Pour Tous, HERS, and other local markets? Here are some of them: Colgate, Dettol, Savlon, Protex, Crest, Dial, Acnelak, Joy, Ajax, Dawn, Lysol, and more.

Most of the sicknesses people commonly come down with—colds, stomach flus, sore throats—are caused by viruses, not bacteria. “The evidence is strong that these products don’t reduce infectious illnesses. Starting September 2017, hand soaps and body washes can no longer contain triclosan, triclocarban, or any of 17 other specific chemicals with germ-killing properties. Manufacturers have until then to either reformulate their products or yank them from the market completely. In the meantime, there’s every reason to think that normal soap is still a great defense against infection—and it’s actually a method that can inform future strategies against bugs. While the classic combination doesn’t kill germs, it does mechanically remove them from your hands, with the help of a bit of chemistry. Basic soaps are composed of water-soluble fatty acid potassium salts. Imagine a negatively charged “head” that is hydrophilic, or water-loving. It’s attached to a long hydrophobic hydrocarbon chain. When you’re washing your hands, the tail grabs on to organic compounds like soil, food, bacteria, and viruses—and the head pulls all that stuff away from your skin, disrupting the microbe’s ability to latch on again. Now trapped in fat-on-the-inside, water-on-the-outside globules, the microbes get easily washed down the drain.

It’s a pretty smart strategy. So rather than focusing on killing them all, what if we concentrated on just keeping bacteria and viruses off things? Like extra-bacteria-philic soaps? High-tech hospital surfaces that mimic shark skin, preventing the growth of dangerous bacteria? Or what about engineering materials to keep bacteria from sticking to them completely? Creativity beyond bacterial cluster-bombing is long overdue. Scientists are thanking the FDA for the push, even if soap manufacturers aren’t.

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