Triclosan is one of the most common ingredients used in commercial antibacterial soap and it's effectiveness over regular soap is now in question.
Research studies that have spanned 26 years have reported that, in a normal day to day setting, antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap in the prevention of infectious illnesses or reducing the bacteria present on the hands.
This has been an argument that has spanned some 30 years and market reports show a steady rise in demand for antibacterial agents driven by health and hygiene awareness campaigns. By 2009, it is thought to reach a market value of $930 million. Industy has defended damning reports claiming that there is evidence that proves antibacterial soaps are more efficient than plain soap at keeping bacterial microbes at bay.
And again, these claims are set to be challenged again with this report published in Clinical Infectious Diseases August edition, who's researchers focussed on the published studies that took place between 1980 and 2006 and found that soaps containing between 0.1-0.45 % triclosan (weight per volume) were no more effective than plain soap.
a market value of $930 million by 2009.
Behind the rising demand, a debate over whether antibacterial products offer benefits over plain soap has raged for over 30 years, with the industry defending the efficacy of the products, often claiming categorical evidence exists to prove that antibacterial soaps are more effective at keeping germs at bay.
But this is set to be challenged with the new review, published in the August edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The researchers looked at studies published between 1980 and 2006, and found that soaps containing triclosan within the range 0.1 to 0.45 percent weight per volume were no more effective than plain soaps.
Soaps used in clinical settings, such as hospitals where the triclosan content is higher, the efficiency of these products may be better. However, further research has been encouraged.
Although there has been no industry comments regarding this recent report, a joint statement from trade associations in 2005, when similar reports came out, The Cosmetics Toiletry and Fragrance Association and the Soap and Detergent Association commented:
"More than thirty years of research has proven that antibacterial products reduce or eliminate bacterial that can lead to commonly transmitted disease. As our presentation to the FDA demonstrated, these products play an invaluable role in the everyday lives of consumers,"
And then went on to say...
"At the heart of this discussion is the fact that every day, people face great potential for the transmission of harmful bacteria to themselves or others. Antibacterial products are proven to control the risks associated with exposure to potentially pathogenic organisms, providing consumers with a valuable extra measure of protection,"