[Pharmwaste] Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial But Without The Risk

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Thu Aug 16 10:47:36 EDT 2007


Source: University of Michigan 

Date: August 16, 2007 

Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial But Without The Risk

Science Daily - Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain
soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective,
says a University of Michigan public health professor.

In the first known comprehensive analysis of whether antibacterial soaps
work better than plain soaps, Allison Aiello of the U-M School of Public
Health and her team found that washing hands with an antibacterial soap
was no more effective in preventing infectious illness than plain soap.
Moreover, antibacterial soaps at formulations sold to the public do not
remove any more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps.

Because of the way the main active ingredient---triclosan---in many
antibacterial soaps reacts in the cells, it may cause some bacteria to
become resistant to commonly used drugs such as amoxicillin, the
researchers say. These changes have not been detected at the population
level, but e-coli bacteria bugs adapted in lab experiments showed
resistance when exposed to as much as 0.1 percent wt/vol triclosan soap.

"What we are saying is that these e-coli could survive in the
concentrations that we use in our (consumer formulated) antibacterial
soaps," Aiello said. "What it means for consumers is that we need to be
aware of what's in the products. The soaps containing triclosan used in
the community setting are no more effective than plain soap at
preventing infectious illness symptoms, as well as reducing bacteria on
the hands." 

The study, "Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky""
appears in the August edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The team
looked at 27 studies conducted between 1980 and 2006, and found that
soaps containing triclosan within the range of concentrations commonly
used in the community setting (0.1 to 0.45 percent wt/vol) were no more
effective than plain soaps. Triclosan is used in higher concentrations
in hospitals and other clinical settings, and may be more effective at
reducing illness and bacteria.

Triclosan works by targeting a biochemical pathway in the bacteria that
allows the bacteria to keep its cell wall intact. Because of the way
triclosan kills the bacteria, mutations can happen at the targeted site.
Aiello says a mutation could mean that the triclosan can no longer get
to the target site to kill the bacteria because the bacteria and the
pathway have changed form. 

The analysis concludes that government regulators should evaluate
antibacterial product claims and advertising, and further studies are
encouraged. The FDA does not formally regulate the levels of triclosan
used in consumer products. 

Other antiseptic products on the market contain different active
ingredients, such as the alcohol in hand sanitizers or the bleach in
some antibacterial household cleaners. Aiello's team did not study those
products and those ingredients are not at issue.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by
University of Michigan.

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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