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Anti-Bacterial Hand Sanitizers and Cleaners Fueling Resistant Superbugs

Anthony Gucciardi
Natural Society / News Report
Published: Saturday 14 April 2012
“Without the flourishing of this ‘good’ bacteria, your ability to fight off any infections — let alone superbugs — is compromised.”
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Drug-resistant superbugs, such as the heavily defiant strain of tiberculosis that is now popping up across the globe, are causing serious shockwaves throughout the medical community. Rampant use of antibiotics for unnecessary conditions and pumping livestock up with an exorbant amount (around 80% of the entire United States antibiotic supply) of drugs is a leading factor, but research shows that anti-bacterial hand sanitizers and cleaners are also contributing to the problem.

Anti-bacterial products have become commonplace in many households and classrooms across the nation, though they are especially prevalent in India — where scientists say the overall use of antibiotics in drug and cleaning form alike are way overused. In addition to containing the problematic ingredient triclosan, these anti-bacterial hand washes and disinfectants are also contributing to the rapid growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that pose a serious risk to human health. At least when trying to ‘treat’ them with the same pharmaceutical interventions that spawned them in the first place.

In fact, it should be noted that both antibiotic drugs and sanitizers also kill beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics are integral to a properly functioning immune system and overall health. Without the flourishing of this ‘good’ bacteria, your ability to fight off any infections — let alone superbugs — is compromised.

In a study conducted by Consumer Education & Research Society (CERS) and CHOICE, published in the consumer magazine Insight, the scientists found that soap and water is actually as good or better in fighting off unwanted germs and bacteria without fueling the superbug epidemic. They also found the ubiquitous endocrine-disrupting chemical triclosan to interfere with both thyroid and sex hormone function.

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ABOUT Anthony Gucciardi

Anthony is an accomplished investigative journalist whose articles have appeared on top news sites and have been read by millions worldwide. A health activist and researcher, Anthony’s goal is informing the public as to how they can use natural methods to revolutionize their health, as well as exploring the behind the scenes activity of the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA.

hard to take the article

hard to take the article seriously when TUBERCULOSIS is misspelled in the opening sentence...ugh.

I would have been much more

I would have been much more inclined to read the whole article had the very first sentence not contained the misspelling of "tuberculosis". Come on, please.

no kidding!

no kidding!

Take this argument up to the

Take this argument up to the next level. All living organisms can read and adapt to their environments. If the environment is threatening they adapt to survive. If it is safe they tend to adapt with novelty--in the case of bacteria it's toward commensalism, living with rather than destroying the host organism. At least that is the message in Paul Ewald's The Evolution of Infectious Disease. Blocking transmission with soap and water, and blocking adherence with the right sugars, is not a threat, it's just a cool way to to keep healthy without using the antibiotics that kill the invaders along with those friendlies that populate our bodies and also help to keep us healthy. Read about it in The Boids and the Bees.

There is a good deal of

There is a good deal of misinformation in this article. Even when there is appropriate use of an antimicrobial soap or hand sanitizer that leads to increased microbial resistance to the antimicrobial component (e.g. triclosan), in no way does this lead to the development of "superbugs", which are microbes resistant to a variety of antibiotics. Antibiotics are substances that are used to treat (microbial) disease. Triclosan is a sanitizing agent meant to kill microorganisms on the skin, and no matter how resistant a microbe may become to triclosan, it does not affect its susceptibility (or resistance) to antibiotics. Also, taking probiotics is not going to have any effect in re-establishment of, or protection by, the normal bacterial flora on the skin. Lastly, it is probably true that washing the hands properly with plain soap and water is as effective in removal of microbes from the skin as is washing with a soap that contains triclosan. It's the lavaging action of washing that removes most of the surface microbes, not the antimicrobial activity of any component in the soap. Antimicrobial soaps and sanitizers are undoubtedly an advertising hype, but as indicated in at least one of these posts, they do have justifiable uses. Which of you who get hands-on-examined by a medical practitioner doesn't mind if they did not wash their hands or use hand sanitizer between the last examinee and you? Non-referenced articles such as this should be reviewed and edited by experts in the field, lest we lose confidence in the veracity and accuracy of other articles published in Nation of Change. Let's not turn it into a blog.

Amen to Kentodar's last two

Amen to Kentodar's last two sentences.

Americans are too obsessed

Americans are too obsessed with hygiene. Showering every day is not necessary if you are not a lumberjack and sweat profusely. Actually, showering every 3rd day keeps your healthy skin bacterial flora defending you from harmful bacteria. We are covered inside and out with beneficial bacteria that protect us from all kinds of pathogens, and thus this obsession with killing everything alive, by antibiotics or antiseptics makes us less safe. Bacteria and viruses are evolving very fast and whatever we use to kill them eventually helps develop resistant bugs...

Same with pesticides and herbicides. The insects also evolve and thus more chemicals are needed. One loses 1/3 of food crop to bugs, with or without give to nature what it wants.

Wash your hands with soap and water and you will be OK. No need for fancy powerful chemicals. Let nature help you out!

Chillingly, the world's

Chillingly, the world's leading private testing laboratory that specializes in determining the quality of triclosan, a popular and dangerous ingredient in anti-bacterial products (inclduing hand soap, detergent, cosmetics, clothing, children's toys, etc.) admits that much of the industrial grade triclosan from China and India is low grade and impure.

Here is one of their own studies:

Quantex Laboratories: Triclosan and Its Impurities

Triclosan is a diphenyl ether (bis-phenyl) derivative, known as either 2,4,4'-Trichloro-2'-hydroxy diphenyl ether or 5-Chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol. It is related in structure to a number of bis-phenyl polychlorinated and bis-phenyl chlorophenol compounds. Due principally to the synthesis chemistry of polychloro diphenyl ethers and phenoxy phenols there is the potential for the formation of small amounts of unwanted trace by-products which are of concern.

Beginning in the early 1970's and into the mid 1980's research revealed that phenoxy herbicides such as 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (1,2,3), the major components of Agent Orange, the bactericide Hexachlorophene (4,5), various chlorophenols, i.e.- pentatchlorophenol, used in wood treatment (6), certain polychloro phenoxy phenols (7) and polychloro diphenyl ethers (8) and diphenyl ether herbicides (9) contained various low levels of polychlorinated dioxins and polychlorinated furans Consequently, since triclosan is by its chemical structure a polychloro phenoxy phenol it is possible that several polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (dioxins) polychloro-dibenzofurans (dibenzofurans) can be found in varying low level amounts, as synthesis impurities in triclosan.

Their presence or absences is dependent upon the type and purity of the starting materials used to synthesize triclosan as well as reaction conditions such as temperature, pressure and the like. If present, their relative concentrations as impurities can vary from batch to batch. This raises concerns because of the toxicity of dioxins and dibenzofurans. The toxicity of dioxins and dibenzofurans varies with the position and number of chlorine atoms attached to the aromatic rings. In general, their toxicity increases with increasing chlorine substitution. Those dioxins and dibenzofurans that have chlorine atoms at the 2,3 and 7 positions are particularly toxic. Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and tetrachlorodibenzo-furan, which have chlorine atoms at the 2,3,7, and 8 positions, are considered the most toxic of the dioxins and dibenzofurans (4), with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin referred to as one of the most toxic substances known As a result of the potential for the formation of dioxins and dibenzofurans as unwanted low level trace by-products the USP, in Pharmacopeial Form, Volume 22, Number 3, Pharmacopeial Reviews and subsequently in Pharmacopeial Form, Volume 23, Number 5, In-Process Revision, proposed a new monograph for the specific testing of triclosan.

The monograph for Triclosn was officially issued in USP24. It details the assay and testing of USP triclosan. In addition to setting product specification standards and procedures to assay the purity and physical identity of USP triclosan, it also defines the limits and methods of testing for unwanted trace by-products which may be present. The tests for these unwanted by-products are (1) Limit of Monochlorophenol and 2,4-Dichlorophenol, (2) Limit of 1,3,7-trichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, 2,8-Dichlorodibenzofuran, and 2,4,8-Trichlorodibenzofuran, and (3) Limit of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and 2,3,7,8-TertrachlorodibenzofuranQuantex Laboratories is currently the only contract analytical laboratories in the U.S. capable of analyzing triclosan for dioxins and dibenzofurans employing isotope dilution high resolution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (HRGC/MS), as required by the USP monograph.

For those requiring the testing and certification of triclosan as meeting the proposed USP limits for unwanted trace by-products Quantex Laboratories can perform the three limit tests (1) Limit of Monochlorophenol and 2,4-Dichlorophenol, (2) Limit of 1,3,7-trichloro-dibenzo-p-dioxin, 2,8-dichlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, 2,8-Dichlorodibenzofuran, and 2,4,8-Trichlorodibenzofuran, and (3) Limit of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and 2,3,7,8-tertrachlorodibenzofuran. We can also provide the complete testing and assay of triclosan as required by the USP, for those requiring the certification of triclosan to USP, which includes the three limit tests, the assay of triclosan for purity, the testing for heavy metals, physical identification and residue on ignition. All analytical testing is conducted in conformance to cGMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).
Quantex Laboratories Inc
22 Distribution Boulevard
Edison, New Jersey 08817 USA
Phone: (732) 248-3335Fax :(732) 248-0912E-mail:

I would not be very

I would not be very optimistic that we can prevent the development of antibiotic resistant bugs or the development of resistances in any target situation, even for weeds with Roundup, if we follow the directions fully in all cases.

If the target organism has the potential for developing any form of tolerance, it will appear given sufficient time and application. Its a numbers game.

The low rates/short control time scenario does not work for all situations and I have worked with organisms which react differently depending on the nature and length of time of the insult. It is in the genes/breeding systems and how that system reacts.

We need to be careful about confusing the removal of a particular strain/group and replacing it with another groups of problematic bugs, with the selection of resistant individuals of the target bugs. Net result may be the same, but different mechanism.There is also a question of what is the optimum treatment/dose situation. By using mixtures of agents/methods, one can reduce the rate of breakdown.

Time to use phage viruss which attack specific species of bacteria? Easy to get, and develop.

I was not aware about the

I was not aware about the hand sanitizers destroying the beneficial bacteria, but how would they not?
I'm sure that is correct about the importance of the good bacteria or probiotics.
Doctors rarely tell patient who are given antibiotics that they need to take some probiotics afterwards, but lack of them can compromise your health, in the form of digestive disorders, yeast overgrowth and many other problems.
I'm with you on the soap and water, but maybe a little hand sanitizer is okay now and then,when you can't get to the sink, as long as it isn't overused.

Soap and water have always

Soap and water have always worked well. But the insatiable appetite for profit has the corporations always shoving some new product down our throats, telling us we can't live without it. Stuff we don't need . For awhile it was impossible to find liquid hand soap with out this crap.

I'd find this more

I'd find this more interesting and persuasive if, instead of the link to "Hindu Business Line," there were a link to the actual study.

tuberculosis is spelled

tuberculosis is spelled tuberculosis


Triclosan is an antibacterial used in these products, 2 years ago the U of MN found it degrades in to a form of dioxin:

This information is not new.

This information is not new. It has been out for years, but no one listens.
And you wonder why your kids are always sick! They do not stand a chance of fighting off anything - they are too protected.

There's no evidence bacteria

There's no evidence bacteria can become resistant to alcohols, peroxides, triclosan, PCMX, or chlorhexidine gluconate over time. Some types of bacteria and virus are resistant to some of them by default (gram positive or gram negative or related to their cell wall coatings), but the resistance to them doesn't change significantly generationally since any weaknesses to them are major structural or chemical ones. Even if that were possible, it would not turn them into "superbugs", since any resistance would be specific to that chemical. Resistance to antibiotics, a very real dilemma that can affect whole classes of drugs like sulfas, is the result of misuse of antibiotics, not their overuse. People need to use the entire course of antibiotics they are prescribed, including all the recommended refills. Very few people do that if the course isn't one of the newer exotic drugs in a 5-pill plan. The colony progeny during an insufficient exposure are able to pass on significant generational adaptations. Bacteria that are already resistant to certain antibiotics will only be marginally affected by the drugs regardless of the length of treatment. Bacteria strains that are not yet resistant to a given antibiotic should be entirely killed off by the treatment and the body's own immune system in combination. If the latter is not possible, such as in compromised immune systems, to suggest that antibiotics should not be used at all is reckless. The likelihood full treatment in average individuals will result in resistant leftover colonies that could then be transferred to others appears to be very small. The problem is simply not sticking to the treatment and to place the blame on the clinicians is reprehensible. Scaremongering about hand sanitizers, cleansers, and compliance with prescriptions as causing "superbugs" is not only unjustified, but will likely further the problem and result in more patients not continuing their course and thus more resistant infections. Now, price/performance concerns over common "antibacterial" hand soaps versus normal, cheap, real soap (which is itself horrendously antibiotic chemically and with friction is a death sentence for bacteria, viruses, and spores), and the very widespread problem of endocrine-disruptors and estrogenic chemicals... those are worth writing about.

Trust me, the university

Trust me, the university hospital where I take a patient for myeloma treatment would not have hand sanitizer at every stop if it was causing resistance. These people deal with stem cell transplants that wipe out the patient's entire immune system - and leave them totally defenseless as it rebuilds. This article is junk science.

My pharmacist agrees with you

My pharmacist agrees with you Reticulli.
This is the second article in as many days on NationofChange about health issues that has been what i can only call "knee jerk" information - I'm disappointed in the superficial hype and hyperbole. Am I going to be able to trust the political articles?

I am getting rid of my A-B

I am getting rid of my A-B stuff today and going back to plain old soap. Thanks for the info.

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