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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being sued by The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit environmental group, claiming the agency failed to regulate toxic chemicals found in antibacterial soaps.

The lawsuit, filed in New York this week, claims that 76 percent of 395 kinds of hand soaps contain triclosan or triclocarbon, which are toxic to users. But the soaps continue to be labeled as safe.

The complaint also cites a recent study by the CDC which found “residues of triclosan in 75 percent of American’s 6 years of age and older.

The suit asks the court to impose an FDA final ruling after 32 years. In 1978, the agency proposed a rule to remove the chemicals.

The NRDC says, along with the potential health risks, antibacterial soaps are no more effective than standard variety soaps.

“Washing your hands with so-called antibacterial soaps that contain these toxic chemicals actually does nothing different than using regular soap and water,” NRDC senior scientist Jennifer Sass said in a statement. “Using soap containing these chemicals does not provide an additional benefit as consumers might think, but instead actually comes with potential health risks.”

For more information, refer to the NRDC Press Release.

Now that you have this information, here is what you can do:

— Wash hands regularly but use normal soap and water.

— Read the labels on your products. Discard any products that contain Triclosan or Triclocarban which are found mostly in soaps but can also be found in some cosmetics and acne cream.

— If you are out and about and do not have access to running water, use a skin sanitizer.

— Check out the Household Products Database where you can look up products that contain these chemicals.

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