September 5, AZERTAC
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned several key chemicals in antibacterial hand soap, warning of health risks and saying they were not more effective than ordinary soap.
The FDA move took aim at 19 ingredients including the two most common, triclosan and triclocarban, which are widely included in liquid and bar antibacterial soaps despite fears they damage the immune system.
"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's drugs division, said.
"In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term."
The ban does not include hand disinfectant products used in hospitals and other medical centres, the FDA said.
Theresa Michele, who works with the personal care side of the agency, said most non-medical products on the market contained at least one of the banned ingredients.
Manufacturers have a year to comply with the ban, and some are already working to remove the ingredients in question from their products, the FDA said.
The Environmental Working Group hailed the bans as progress.
"This decision by the FDA is a huge victory on behalf of human health and the environment," Ken Cook, co-founder and president of EWG, said.
"EWG has been conducting research and advocating for this exact federal government action for nearly a decade, and our work, as well as that of other public interest groups and many of our supporters, has finally paid off."
Mr Cook, whose group assesses some products for safety concerns, called the FDA decision overdue.