Big on antibacterial soap? Sorry, but it's probably not helping you, and could even be altering your hormones and damaging the environment, a researcher says. In a new review paper, Rolf Halden argues that people get little benefit from antibacterial products because they use them incorrectly, LiveScience reports. You're supposed to wash with them for 20 to 30 seconds, but studies say people use them for an average of six seconds. Worse, microbes are adapting to antibacterial chemicals, which could heighten their resistance to antibiotics. And animal studies say the chemicals may even affect body hormones.
Two key chemicals—triclosan and triclocarban—are used in more than 2,000 antibacterial products, including detergents, paints, clothing, plastics, and even pacifiers, says Halden. In December, the FDA decided that manufacturers have a year to prove that those products are safe or remove the chemicals altogether, Red Orbit reports. Dubbed TCC and TCS, the chemicals account for 60% of all drugs in wastewater treatment plant sludge and don't easily degrade. Due to sludge sewage disposal, some 435,000 pounds of the chemicals end up on US agricultural land each year. (For another possible health hazard, read about peeing in the pool.)