The issue has been out there since the 1930s, but a study finally confirms that anti-bacterial soap is not much better than regular soap for that extra elimination of germs off your hands. They have a different ingredient that is certainly the death of bacteria, but not in the common real-life circumstances.
Researchers at the College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology from the Korea University in Seoul have conducted a series of experiments to test out the potency of antibacterial soap in comparison to its plain counterpart. They found that while the former is certainly stronger in certain situations, it is not how it’s ever used by consumers.
They first tested both types of soaps on 20 different strains of bacteria in tubes, including Salmonella, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus under temperatures frequently used for hand-washing. The anti-bacterial soap contained the maximum limit of 0.3% triclosan, as allowed by law and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Tricoslan (or triclocarban) is the anti-bacterial ingredient found in liquid soap that has been under quite a lot of controversy since its approval, with some parties claiming that it has absolutely no effect, while others claiming that it might not even be safe. However, the latter argument found no concrete proof that the compound is damaging to the consumer’s health.
Researchers exposed the germs to both types of sanitation products, and studied the effects. The anti-bacterial soap did indeed prove itself to be “significantly” more effective… after 9 or more hours of exposure. However, no one continuously washes their hands for that long, not even those with acute fear of germs.
Within the average time of 10, 20 or 30 seconds a person spends on sanitizing and cleaning their hands, the anti-bacterial soap had virtually no better effect than the regular soap in eliminating the different types of bacteria.
The same situation was tested on 16 adults, who were exposed to bacteria on their hands and then asked to wash it off with both types of products. According to the co-author of the study, professor Min Suk Rhee, the difference was “non-significant”. While both were excellent in ridding of the bacteria, neither stood out as the clear winner.
Furthermore, the FDA has issued a warning that animal testing of anti-bacterial products have shown that while tricoslan isn’t harmful, it might indeed lead to hormonal imbalance and heightened resistance to antibiotics.
The matter will undergo further study, and has begun in 2013, with 2016 as the deadline for soap manufacturers to conduct research and provide better evidence of its benefits. If not, they will be required to either change the label to remove all claim of enhanced anti-bacterial effects of tricoslan, or eliminate tricoslan altogether.
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