So, a new report out this week demonizes hand santizer. And, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve avoided buying Purell and Germ-X for my family, and hopefully the rest of the world will come around to my point of view. Here’s why I just don’t like the goo my kids refer to as “germ gel”:
1. I don’t think hand sanitizer effectively stops the spread of germs. While this is purely anecdotal, my kids’ school relies heavily on hand sanitizer and this year sicknesses like strep throat and conjuncitivis ran rampant through the school. Seriously, every week we received notices from the school nurse. When I asked Evie about hand washing at school, she said they just use “germ gel” before meals and after recess. Ummmm…no. Next year I am going to request that hand santizer is not to be used on my kids. They can take 30 seconds to properly wash hands…
2. …which brings me to my next point: Hand sanitizer is no replacement for soap and warm water. I understand that sometimes soap and water isn’t available, but when it is (i.e. at school and home) then it needs to be the first method of washing away germs. I’d rather let soap and my immune system do the job, thankyouverymuch.
3. Hand sanitizer speeds absorption of Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disrupting environmental contaminant used in a wide variety of products like hard plastics and grocery store receipts and according to a paper published last week in the journal PLOS ONE, “some commonly used hand sanitizers, as well as other skin care products, contain mixtures of dermal penetration enhancing chemicals that can increase by up to 100 fold the dermal absorption of lipophilic compounds such as BPA.”
Overall, using hand sanitizer before handling receipts led to an increase of BPA in the blood of the study’s participants. The resulting blood levels of BPA were “well within the range wherein the risk for a whole range of nasty conditions, from type II diabetes to angina and heart attacks to obesity and liver abnormalities,” according to study author and University of Missouri researcher Frederick vom Saal.
4. The active ingredient in many hand sanitizers is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that has been linked to a host of human and environmental health problems. Research has shown that triclosan can disrupt the endocrine system, and in animal studies it reduced muscle strength. It may impact the immune system, too.
Not to mention the fact that triclosan doesn’t kill viruses or fungi, which means it doesn’t protect against the common cold, flu or E. coli…
5. Hand sanitizer comes in thick plastic jars and pumps. And I think plastic totally sucks. A nice bar of soap comes with little to no (paper) packaging. Much nicer for our lovely planet.
6. I really believe that hand sanitizer is a marketing creation developed to get us to buy more stuff. On par with bottled water, marketers made us think that old fashioned hand washing was no longer safe or effective. I’m smarter than that.
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