Saturday, April 10, 2010

Anti-bacterial Alert

I hate to be right all the time about these things, but I just read recently that the FDA is reviewing the safety of Triclosan which is an ingredient in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers and things like that for safety. I have been anti-antibacterial for years. I remember my first job after getting out of school, all the deli/bakery ladies were all abuzz about this controversial expose on 20/20 about how antibacterial soaps don’t clean any more than regular soaps, and at that point I was already saying “to thanks” to antibacterial. It’s common sense, really that if you spread around all that stuff, it just makes stronger bugs.

There is another aspect to antibacterial agents that doesn’t get addressed very often, and it, of course, is way scarier than creating superbugs. A lot of these chemicals, including the preservative Methylchloroisothiazolinone which I have found in some pretty expensive shampoos that were also touted as natural, are in products that are designed to be flushed and washed down the drain. All this stuff bioaccumulates, and most of it has been found to create mutation in developing cells. Usually non-mammalian cells but still not so much fun for fans of the food chain as the first things that will get hit with concentrations of disinfectants and preservatives in the water will be frogs and fish and that good stuff.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone first came to my attention about five years ago when I read an article about research that was being done at the University of Pittsburgh about possible fetal deformities in actual human beings who were coming in contact with the chemical. I was not able to find a link to this article, but I assure you the research exists.

At my “new” job that I’ve had since December, I just had the safety tour and also a lecture about how to be safe walking out to my car since that girl got kidnapped on her way out of the building. I was not impressed. I have my own safety plan in every situation: know where the exits are and take off if things start sounding funny, looking funny, or smelling funny. If you can't get out, hide, preferably in something that will stop a bullet. I know there are evacuation plans, etc. and rules for these things, but I seriously believe that in a crisis situation no one is actually going to follow those plans, and I am not willing ot put my personal safety in the hands of other people’s evacuation plans.

I feel the exact same way about the ingredients in products I buy. I never go in with the idea that the FDA or some chemist or corporate executive is going to step in and protect the public. Look at the microwave popcorn thing. Look at the horrifying scary stuff that is in processed food and also the horrifying scary side effects of supposedly safe food like obesity and pop sucking the calcium and phosphorus out of your bones and kids getting rickets from eating too much fast food and never going outside. Really, in matters like this, you need to be on your own side. (And also on the side of the fish.)

There are a lot of products that you can buy that are not that terrible, and there are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself. The range of products available on the market is mindboggling, and that is before you look to small cottage industries and do-it-yourself things. It’s all about how much time you are willing to put into defending yourself and your life from people who just don’t care about you and who are neglecting what is in the best interest of the people to the detriment of everyone.

I’m going to get all technical, but Marxist theory says that in a post industrial society, there is a point where there is so much specialization and brand diversity demanded by the population that mass production bascially gets rolled back in favor of craftspeople and small manufacturing. If the major companies are poisoning us (and the frogs) maybe that day needs to come a little sooner. The major companies and the government are not going to change things until there is irrefutable proof that these ingredients are harmful, and by that point it will be too late: everything is going to be contaminated and mutated. I’m going to stay on the side of the fish. I think they would be on my side, too!

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