Antimicrobial products are often promoted for their clean and healthy qualities; however, they can actually be unhealthy because misuse of antimicrobials can lead to resistance. (Like how it’s not recommended to stay on antibiotics for too long.)
So what are antimicrobials?
Perkins+Will defines antimicrobials as substances toxic to specific organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or protozoa. These organisms fit the umbrella definition of “microbe.” And since not every microbe is harmful to human health, they are not always a problem.1 We don’t need our surfaces to be actively fighting against them.
Antimicrobials to Avoid
Why are they unhealthy?
Antimicrobial materials may be marketed as “healthy,” but these claims are unfounded:
So, why are they still used?
The FDA banned the marketing of products like soaps and hand sanitizers containing triclosan as an antimicrobial sanitizer in 2023.3 However, because antimicrobials used in building materials are considered “pesticides,” loopholes allow their continued use by the building sector.2
The United Nations precautionary principle states that in cases where the health impacts of a chemical are not fully understood, and there is room for concern, its use should be avoided.6
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