Hand sanitizer gets a pretty bad rap these days, despite its incredible ubiquity. It’s even frequently blamed for stuff that it really has nothing to do with, like breeding supergerms. Almost all commercially available hand sanitizers are simple alcohol solutions with moisturizing compounds to keep the alcohol from drying out your skin too much. Alcohol kills bacteria so effectively and evaporates so quickly, that germs are unable to adapt to it. It’s antibiotic overuse that is responsible for scourges like MRSA and other “super” bugs.
Triclosan is one of the major culprits, as mentioned in this video from Discovery News. However triclosan is not found in hand sanitizer. It is found in soaps like Dial and others which tout their “antibacterial” cleansing power. It’s also found in some toothpastes and mouthwash, even though there is much evidence that links it to many health issues beyond the supergerm thing, including increased allergy sensitivity and many fetal development issues including low birth weight.
Speaking of which, the other component of this new study on hand sanitizer, Bisphenol-A or BPA, has been a bogeyman in the consumer product for years for almost identical reasons as triclosan, only … it might not actually be so bad. Recent studies on differing levels of BPA in the body have shown no adverse effects until insane levels humans would never experience. Triclosan did cause these effects at normal exposure levels, even in the same studies where BPA had no effect.
Still, it pays to know what’s in the food you eat, the water you drink, and the products you buy. I certainly had no idea thermal receipts contained BPA, for example! And knowing how one thing might interact with another can’t hurt either.
So, to sum it up: definitely, definitely avoid triclosan (and its cousin, triclocarban), and if you’re concerned about BPA in your life, maybe skip the hand sanitizer.