Life expectancy has hit an all time high of almost 78 years, yet to listen to certain alarmist groups, just about everything you come into contact with these days has the potential to give you cancer, kill you, destroy the environment, or end the world. Special interest groups are always warning us about this, that, and the other. They tend to find one study or another and take it as the end of the story. They spread the story through blogs and all over the Internet until many people just simply believe it as fact.
For example, over 40 years ago, the FDA considered banning the artificial sweetener Saccharin because “studies” showed that it caused cancer. In the end, they did not ban the substance, but instead forced the makers to put a dire warning label on any product that might have contained it stating that it could cause cancer. Even though studies had been done for decades showing that Saccharin was in fact safe for human consumption, they still took the aggressive action and negatively impacted the artificial sweetener industry.
In 2000, thirty years later, the warnings were eventually removed after it was discovered the original data was faulty. Yet, it still took the FDA another ten years to give it the all-clear. In December 2010, the FDA finally removed Saccharin from its list of carcinogens and proclaimed it safe for humans. To this day, many still hold the belief that Saccharin causes cancer.
On April 6, the EPA will decide the fate of Triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient found in soap, tooth paste, trash bags, toys, and hundreds of other products. The chemical has been studied for over fifty years and was just two years ago deemed safe by the FDA. A study by Fabrizio, Ward & Associates found that 74% of Americans use antibacterial products including soap and 83% of those want the option available. The same study also showed that the overwhelming majority prefer to have a choice on whether to continue using these products.
Even if you prefer not to use antibacterial soaps, Triclosan is used for many other purposes, some that are not currently under attack from these studies. It has been shown to be a much better fighter of gingivitis and gum disease than Fluoride alone. It is used to prevent the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA), in nursing homes and neonatal units. We have used this chemical safely for over 70 years to fight life-threatening bacteria. What happens when suddenly it is removed from trash bags, toys, cosmetics? What will be the negative impact on our health when we reintroduce all of this additional bacteria? We don’t know.
The EPA needs to slow down before outright banning any chemical or substance that is so prevalent in our daily lives. The impact on such a ban will not only have far reaching implications on many product industries, but also on consumers who make the choice to use them for protection.