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US Officials Question Use of Antibacterial Soaps



From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

One of the best ways to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands repeatedly with soap and water. Health experts say hand washing removes harmful germs and helps prevent germs from spreading. Some companies now manufacture germ-killing products, like antibacterial soaps. People may think such products do a better job protecting them form getting sick. An estimated 2,000 antimicrobial soaps are sold in the US.

Recently, a federal agency called on the makers of these products to prove they are more effective than traditional soap and water. The Food and Drug Administration said antibacterial soap may be partly to blame for an increase in drug-resistant bacteria. The FDA also wants the soap-makers to show how their products do more good than harm. Some studies suggest long-term of antimicrobial soaps can affect hormone levels and may by linked to cancer. The Natural Resources Defense Council has taken legal action against the FDA for letting companies use the chemicals triclosan and triclocarban in soaps.

Mae Wu is a lawyer with the group. She says the FDA is finally taking concerns about triclosan seriously. But soap industry representatives question the FDA proposal. In a statement, the Personal Care Products Council said it has already given information to the government. It said studies shows that antibacterial soaps are more in killing germs. It also says the soaps do not increasy resistance to antibiotic drugs.

Sandra Kweder is the deputy director of the FDA. She says her agency's proposal is an attempt to learn both the benefits and the risks of using antibacterial products.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.