Why Hand Sanitizers Shouldn't Be in Your Child’s Classroom


| 5/30/2013 9:30:00 AM


Every year you’ll find it on your child’s school supply list: hand sanitizer. You’ll find the words “antibacterial” plastered on every home-care and personal-care product across the board. Our culture is obsessed with this idea of killing bacteria yet most of us have no idea what we are really doing.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are nothing new to some of us. With the onslaught of MRSA, mainstream news outlets have covered the story from time to time, but we continue to use products like hand sanitizers, unknowingly turning our children’s hands into little Petri dishes. Doctors are taking steps to curb the problem, such as testing for bacterial infections before simply handing out prescriptions for antibiotics to every child with a runny nose, but the school system seems to have ignored the warnings and, in fact, studies claim the use of hand sanitizers has had a positive effect in the classroom, resulting in less absenteeism. On the other hand, numerous studies show, “these antibacterial hand washes and disinfectants are also contributing to the rapid growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that pose a serious risk to human health.” Let’s not forget that using these products also kills off the beneficial bacteria in the environment, just as antibiotics kill off healthy gut bacteria.

hand sanitizer
Photo By SonnyandSandy/Flickr

So what could be worse?

Triclosan: the most popular ingredient in antibacterial products and a heavy endocrine-disrupting substance. Triclosan can be found in everything from clothing to kitchenware, furniture, toys and, of course, in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes and cosmetics. If you don’t know much about endocrine disruptors, go check out Mrs. Green’s explanation or at least throw “endocrine disruptors” into your search bar. Basically, triclosan has the ability to alter your body’s hormones in a negative way. Recent studies have also found triclosan to weaken muscles and hinder the heart’s ability to circulate blood. In layman’s terms, this chemical can stop your heart. Bacteria don’t sound so scary now, do they?



“But these products are regulated by the FDA,” you say.



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