Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned 19 active ingredients in antibacterial soaps to help curb antibiotic-resistance and some other effects of the chemicals. Soap and cleanser manufacturers will need to either remove the chemicals from their products stop selling them within a year.

"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). "In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term."

In this blog post, Bill Walsh of the Healthy Building Network notes that these substances are part of the network's Pharos Project Chemical and Materials Library as a restricted substance list to help building industry professionals avoid these chemicals in building products. He applauds the FDA decision.

The FDA decision underscores the need for manufacturers to fully disclose building product contents so that architects, designers, building owners and occupants can make informed decisions about avoiding hazards while the regulatory process grinds on. Antimicrobial products' presence in building materials is an avoidable chemical hazard that has no place in a healthy building.

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