Truth feeder
Prevent Disease
October 20, 2009

Rinse-free hand sanitizers are, by definition, intended for degerming skin without the aid of rinsing with soap and water. This type of product has steadily gained popularity in schools and public facilities to prevent the flu. However, the risks of using such hand sanitizers far exceed the benefits as most have carcinogenic and immune suppressing compounds.

Health agencies across the world have annouced a need for immediate and persistent protection from harmful microbes and viruses, especially those considered by world health officials as imminent threats such as the H1N1 flu. Yet, the solutions proposed for antiseptic preparations are often deadlier than diseases themselves and at a detriment to long-term health.

This is especially a concern when it comes to their promotion in schools and public facilities which cater to millions of children. “Our plan is to give students safe topical protection that is easily accessible and prevents germs from spreading,” stated Charolette Dubois, a public health nurse in Montreal. Dubois said she considers most hand sanitizers safe, although she admits never actually looking at the ingredients.

Many brands of sanitizers contain more than 60 percent alcohol, the same type found in alcoholic drinks, but others are made with isopropyl alcohol, which can be fatal, even in small doses if children ingest it.

“As kids return to classrooms it is more important than ever that we take steps to slow the spread of influenza-like viruses, including the novel H1N1 virus,” said Dr. Mark Horton, who is the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

An alcohol-free hand sanitizer, like Soapopular recently launched in the UK, can be the first line of defence against the spread of swine flu, claims its Canadian manufacturers. Soapopular has been popping up all over the U.K., Canada and U.S. child care venues, schools and health care facilities. It carries FDA approval in the U.S., Health Canada approval in Canada and MHRA approval to market in the UK.

The soapopular product differs from most hand sanitizers in that it does not use alcohol as its main active ingredient. They claim it makes it a safer option for children since it contains an ammonium compound called Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC), which clinical research has shown to destroy most viruses in seconds including avian flu, SARS, influenza and H1N1 virus.

On closer examination of soapopular and similar products that contain Benzalkonium Chloride, there are alarming toxic effects which are a far greater risk to our health than any prevention benefits they tout.

Benzalkonium chloride is an allergen, carncinogen and immunosuppresive chemical. Several studies have cast doubt on its reputation for safety. It is widely used in mouthwashes, spermicidal creams, and in various other cleaners and disinfectants. It requires higher concentrations to be effective against specific bacteria and viruses.

BAC is also commonly used in oil field industry as a corrosion inhibitor and specifically used for military applications.

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency approved it’s reregistration based on studies that directly contradicted earlier publications which positively correlate its use with mutagenic, allergic and immunosuppresive effects on human health.

In toxicology, BAC is also used as the median lethal dose, LD50 (abbreviation for “Lethal Dose, 50%”), required to kill half the members of a tested population.

A disinfectant containing benzalkonium chloride and the related compound didecyldimethylammonium chloride (DDAC) has been identified as the most probable cause of birth defects and fertility problems in caged mice.

In the cosmetic safety database, there is moderate to strong evidence that it is an immune, skin and respiratory toxicant. One or more in vitro tests on mammalian cells exposed to BAC show positive mutation effects. Its use is restricted in cosmetic ingredients in Canada.

The Safety (MSDS) data sheet at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory in Oxford University shows that BAC is a corrosive, toxic substance that causes burns. It is harmful by inhalation, ingestion and through skin contact. In addition is may cause reproductive defects and act as a mutagen.

Ironically, the material safety sheet on sciencelab.com indicates that if there is serious skin contact with this chemical, a person is to wash with a disinfectant soap, cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream and seek immediate medical attention.

Despite the scientifically established and toxic nature of BAC, its integration into hand sanitizers in schools and health facilities does not seem to concern health officials and regulating health agencies. They insist there are no dangers or health risks associated with using them in the short or long term. Quite the contrary, as they would like us to believe the benefit of using BAC far exceeds the risks of contracting a mild flu.

These are the same regulating agencies that use deceptive science to tell us that vaccines are safe and pharmaceuticals have no long-term effects on our health. They may also soon tell us that pigs can fly and bees can not.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

* A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.