The Food and Drug Administration is finally going to decide whether antibacterial soap actually works, or if it's causing more harm than good.
Government researchers plan to deliver a review this year on the effectiveness and safety of triclosan, the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the United States. The chemical has been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, used for cleaning kitchens, people's bodies and clothing.
The chemical is also found in mouthwash, toothpaste and toys, and depending on what the FDA finds, a $1 billion industry could be affected.
The agency's review comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers, consumer advocates and others who are concerned about the safety of triclosan. Recent animal studies of triclosan have led scientists to worry that it could case hormone-related problems in humans including an increase the risk of infertility and early puberty.
Many chemicals used in everyday household products have never been formally approved by U.S. health regulators. That's because many germ-killing chemicals were developed decades ago before there were laws requiring scientific review of cleaning ingredients.
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