The FDA has warned cosmetics companies that their products contain a lot of potentially dangerous, untested ingredients. They’re especially worried that when we mix several of these ingredients together, such as put on lotion before putting on makeup, we may be mixing these chemicals together into a dangerous combination. Well, at least soap is safe (but not if it causes superbugs!)
Pat Thomas writes in The Independent that the average person uses about nine personal products a day, including skin products, make up, hair products and soap. Altogether, we?re exposed to around 126 different chemicals daily, most of which contain perfume, and all of which are absorbed into the body, where they are stored in fatty tissue or in the liver, kidney, reproductive organs and brain.
Some of the ingredients on the potentially dangerous list are plasticizers (for texture), parabens (preservatives), which have been found in inside breast tumors, anti-bacterial agents, which can lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and estrogenic chemicals, which may also promote breast cancer and have been found in breast milk. If these chemicals were in prescription drugs, they would be taken off the market, but the cosmetics industry controls its own testing.
Thomas has found dangerous ingredients in anti-wrinkle skin lotion, shampoo, and even baby wash. She is worried about the safety of some perfumes and toothpaste. She feels that some shaving cream, hair dye and bubble bath should be removed from store shelves as well.
It seems hard to go wrong with plain old bar soap, especially one that claims to kill “99 percent of germs” it encounters. But critics of anti-bacterial soaps say there’s plenty to be concerned about. More antibacterial soap and cleaning products are being bought than ever before: In fact it’s hard to find a cleaning product on the shelves that isn’t antibacterial. But some scientists say that by constantly exposing bacteria to the antibacterial agents in these products, we are creating superbugs, that are resistant to all antibiotics. Not all scientists agree that this is a problem.
Unlike anti-bacterial products, regular household soap helps separate bacteria from the skin so they wash down the drain or attach to the hand towel when hands are dried (which is why it’s a good idea to change your hand towels often and not to use the same towel to dry your hands that you use to dry dishes). Anti-bacterial soap kills the bacteria outright.
Dr. Stuart Levy, of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, says these products should be banned for use in ordinary households and confined to hospitals. According to Levy, “We run the risk of changing the kinds of bacteria we confront every day in the home.” Here’s how antibacterial soaps can create superbugs: The small percentage of bacteria that survive the soap may develop resistance to it. What’s more, some surviving bacteria may have an improved ability to pump out all threatening substances, including antibiotics used to cure infections.Those survivors may pass that mutation to their offspring, and the adaptation can come to dominate an entire population of bacteria, creating a resistance. So far, there?s no evidence this is happening in households.
The FDA also plans to research whether the use of antibacterials in homes may leave those homes too clean for young children, who may need some exposure bacteria in order to develop a strong immune system. One theory suggests that growing up in a too-clean environment may cause a person to develop asthma and serious allergies later in life.
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