KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Federal health regulators are taking a look at an ingredient found in products most people use almost every day. It turns out some of those antibacterial products we use to stay healthy could actually be causing more harm than good.
The ingredient in question is triclosan. It can be found in many products from clothing and kitchenware to soaps and cosmetics. The ingredient is often added to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination.
January Bomar is the mother of seven month old Vanessa. She uses antibacterial soap often.
"It's supposed to kill all types of bad germs. That's what they tell you, especially when you leave the hospital, especially when you have a newborn baby," said Bomar.
But the FDA is reviewing the effects of triclosan after recent animal studies suggested the ingredient could cause infertility or increase the risk of hormone problems.
"It kind of makes me concerned because I should have known about this a long time ago and if not's that safe, it makes me wonder is hand sanitizer safe?" asked Bomar.
According to Dr. Martha Buchanan, the director of the Knox County Health Department, hand sanitizers are not involved in the study because they are alcohol-based and do not contain triclosan.
She says at this point the FDA's research into triclosan is inconclusive.
"At this time they've seen an effect in animals. We don't know what that means in humans, so they are going to have to look at it some more," said Dr. Buchanan.
"There's good old fashioned soap and water if you're concerned until the FDA gets more information out about what the possible impacts could be to humans," said Dr. Buchanan.
Dr. Buchanan also says the FDA has found no evidence soaps made with triclosan actually provide any benefit. She says regular soap and water works to prevent disease.
Bomar says now that she knows this she will go back to using the basics soap and water. She will also start to check out the ingredients in other products.
The ingredient has been on the market for 40 years. The soap and detergent industry says the concerns are overblown.
Triclosan is found in everything from some toys to toothpastes, but until the FDA finishes their study, companies can continue to use the chemical.