Some of us pride ourselves on having antibacterial anything close by. In the bathroom, in the kitchen, and even in your purse. You know, just in case you're stuck in a public restroom and that blasted automatic soap dispenser is empty. When people see the words "kills 99.9% of germs" they probably get a little giddy inside.
And why shouldn't they?
Americans have been led to believe that by washing their hands with antibacterial soap they're protecting themselves from harmful bacteria. The nation's ceaseless vigilance has been long credited with helping to stop the spread of flu germs.
Well, the Food and Drug Administration has finally gotten around to eroding all of that smug self-satisfaction. The organization is now demanding that all companies who manufacture items said to kill germs must actually prove it. This has Americans greeting the news with a bewildered, "Wait, you guys never checked to see if it was true?"
Many American consumers just automatically assume that antibacterial soaps are safe. The "kills germs" in big bold letters is all anyone needed. Unfortunately, most shoppers don't even bother to check for the words "FDA approved" in its stead. Between corporations and the government, it's hard to peg who dropped the ball the hardest.
Consumers have probably never even heard of Triclocarban, an ingredient found in antibacterial bar soaps and said to potentially interfere with hormone levels. The soaps could even cause bacteria resistance. That's right, instead of protecting you from germs, you'd find yourself more susceptible to them.
Officials are telling Americans they're better off fighting germs the old fashioned way: by using plain soap and water.
Before you despair, there may be an alternative coming to stores in the future. Scientists are currently working with cold plasma, which has been shown to be an effective tool for eliminating germs and treating infections. It may take a few years to perfect, but at least it will be scientifically proven to work.
So chin up, germaphobes. Your day is coming.
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