ACI Refutes "Too Clean" Hype on Hygiene Hypothesis


Research claiming that young people are "overexposed" to antibacterial soap doesnt reflect real-world usage of a proven, beneficial product used safely and effectively on a daily basis, according to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) formerly known as the Soap and Detergent Association.

ACI, which represents the U.S. cleaning products industry, refuted the publicity statements promoting research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The authors claimed exposure to the antibacterial ingredient triclosan may lead to allergy suffering in teenagers.

"This is speculation at its worst. The researchers do not provide data to show a problematic cause-and-effect from usage of antibacterial soap containing triclosan," says Richard Sedlak, ACIs senior vice president of technical and international affairs. "Triclosan has been extensively reviewed, researched and regulated for four decades and is globally accepted as safe for daily use."

ACI also expressed disappointment at how the researchers hyped and distorted the studys conclusions in their attempts to market the research. Unlike the actual published article, the researchers press release omits any mention of the serious limitations, lack of causal demonstration, and highly tentative nature of the conclusions in the study.

"Its a shame that the researchers felt it necessary to revive the myth of the "hygiene hypothesis," which attempts to link health threats to individuals who supposedly live in too clean environments," Sedlak adds."From a real-world standpoint, how many of us actually live and work in environs that are too clean around the clock? ACI doesnt want this mythmaking and fear-mongering to discourage individuals from engaging in important cleaning and disinfecting practices. Smart, targeted hygiene is essential to preventing the spread of germs and illness that can truly make us sick or even kill us."

In 2004, a report by the London-based International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) on the hygiene hypothesis found "no justification" for claims that cleaning and hygiene contribute to an increase in allergies. The IFH report also found "no evidence that cleaning habits prevalent today are to blame" and "firmly dispels the notion that we are living in super-clean, germ-free homes." The report can be found online at

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