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Antibacterial soaps also no longer kill germs
Washing hands is the most important hygiene rule. Many people use so-called “antibacterial soaps” to protect themselves effectively from pathogenic germs. However, a scientific study shows that such products do not help any better than conventional soap.
Expensive special products are usually superfluous
It is clear that washing hands is important to protect yourself from pathogens. But you do not have to resort to expensive special products, even conventional soap is sufficient. The magazine “Ökotest” came to the conclusion at the beginning of the year that antibacterial products were popular but unnecessary. The tested products such as liquid soaps, disinfectant gels, hygiene wipes or sprays could not keep promises such as "removes 99.9 percent of all bacteria". A new study by researchers from South Korea now shows that “antibacterial soaps” with the controversial active ingredient triclosan are no more effective than normal soap.
20 seconds for washing hands
The active ingredient Triclosan, which is advertised as antibacterial, does not offer any additional benefits in soap when washing hands. The concentration in which it is contained in commercially available soaps does not reduce the number of bacteria. This is the result of a research team led by Min-suk Rhee from the Korea University in Seoul (South Korea). The scientists recently published their results in the journal "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy". For their investigation, the researchers exposed 20 strains of bacteria to a soap solution containing 0.3 percent triclosan for 20 seconds. 20 seconds is about the time we spend on hand washing on average. As the dpa news agency reports, the triclosan concentration corresponds to the highest concentration of soaps permitted in the EU and many countries.
Use prohibited in some countries
The scientists found that the triclosan solution had no better effect than the same soap solution without triclosan in either a 22 degree or 40 degree trial. Only after an exposure time of about nine hours was there a noticeable difference between soap solutions with and without the chemical. The researchers then asked 16 healthy adults to wash their hands with one of the two soap solutions. It was found that the number of bacteria was reduced by approximately the same amount in both cases. According to the scientists, solutions with higher concentrations of 0.45 to 2.0 percent triclosan had a noticeable effect on bacteria in previous studies. However, such soaps are currently no longer allowed to be used in many countries.
Because of possible health damage in the criticism
Triclosan has been criticized for possible damage to health for a long time. In late 2014, a team of US researchers came to the conclusion that triclosan could promote liver cancer in an experiment with mice. There are also indications that the substance can lead to hormonal disorders and damage the muscles. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) had already demanded in 2006 that antibacterial agents such as triclosan should be reserved for disinfection in hospitals and medical practices. Otherwise the resistance development of bacteria could be promoted.
Triclosan, found in many disinfectants and cleaning agents, cosmetics and special clothing, can also have environmental consequences. According to the Federal Environment Agency, it is toxic to algae. One of the degradation substances accumulates in fish, among other things. According to dpa, a team led by Christina Pieper from the BfR came to the conclusion in a 2014 study that antimicrobial substances are also superfluous in household cleaners: "Health risks from microorganisms are not to be feared in a regularly cleaned household, provided that the basic rules of hygiene are observed . “The industry association for personal care and detergents (IKW) informed about the use of triclosan that there are no new scientifically recognized findings that could question the application in cosmetic products. The safety of Triclosan has therefore been checked several times. It should be noted that not all liquid and solid soaps that are advertised as “antibacterial” contain triclosan. (ad)