Okay - for a while, I worked as a sub-contractor for the EPA, specifically in the field of germicides. It's been long enough that I'm pretty sure the NDAs have expired.
There are certain very specific standards that have to be met when they say that a product is both safe and effective. 'Disinfectants' have to kill a certain percentage of the target microorganism. 'Sanitizers' have to kill a certain percentage of the target microorganism. 'Sterilants' have to kill a certain percentage of the target microorganism. 'Hospital grade', 'virucide', and 'fungicide' all have their correlating tests. Otherwise, the label isn't approved and they have to go back to reformulate. When a product has information on it about toxicity (including oral toxicity, skin contact toxicity, skin sensitization - which is a different thing, eye irritation, and corrosiveness), that's also based on specific standards. My group didn't cover 'long term exposure' - sensitization was measured as an increase in reactions with exposures at different times measured in days or weeks.
Using germicides improperly helps create superbugs, by the simple process of natural selection. This includes the contact time and the concentration of the product. If Product X says that you need to leave it on the surface for 5 minutes to kill Staphylococcus aureus
, and you spray down the surface and it's dry a minute later, then the S. aureus
bacteria that survived are already predisposed to survive longer
against Product X. They will multiply, and form a greater portion of the population because the weaker ones have been killed off. If it says 'contact time 5 minutes', then you need to reapply the product to make sure
it stays wet for five minutes.
In addition, the article speaks about things like hormonal effects. The Mayo Clinic has an article up
Research has shown that triclosan:
Alters hormone regulation in animals
Might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs
Might be harmful to the immune system
When you use a product containing triclosan, you can absorb a small amount through your skin or mouth. A 2008 study, which was designed to assess exposure to triclosan in a representative sample of U.S. children and adults, found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested.
A recent (2014) study published by the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org/content/111/48/17200.short
) indicates that long-term exposure to triclosan can increase the likelihood of liver tumors. (The 'correction' noted on the article was a mistyped grant number.)
Believe it or not, the government doesn't discontinue or ban products just to inconvenience people. If you are using these products for a medical reason, you should talk with a professional about alternatives.