Will Human Beings Soon Stop Bathing?

And instead use pro-biotics for the skin? Meanwhile, must we try to kill every germ on us, good or bad, with triclosan? Action Alert!
The New York Times Magazine recently ran a story about a fascinating new product, a spray called AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist, from a small biotech company AOBiome. The spray contains billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB).
AOBiome scientists believe these bacteria act as a kind of pro-biotic for the skin. Once applied, they become a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory, and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat. The MIT-trained chemical engineer who invented AO+, David Whitlock, noticed that horses will roll in dirt after the getting sweaty: they are actually collecting the bacteria that transform the ammonia into nitrite and nitric oxide.
Whitlock’s first test subject has been himself; he sprays himself daily with AO+. He trusts his skin’s bacterial colony to keep him clean and says he has not showered for the past twelve years, although he occasionally takes a sponge bath to wash away grime. Others in the start-up company now do the same—and the reporter noted that none of them in any way conveyed a sense of being “unclean” in either the visual or olfactory sense.
The reporter, Julia Scott, tried the spray on herself for one month as an experiment. After about a week’s transition, a new colony of N. eutropha had started living on her skin—which became softer and smoother, rather than dry and flaky, “as though a sauna’s worth of humidity had penetrated the skin.” Her complexion, prone to hormone-related breakouts, was clear—for the first time ever.
Soon, AOBiome will file an Investigational New Drug Application with the FDA to request permission to test more concentrated forms of AOB for the treatment of diabetic ulcers and other dermatologic conditions.
At the other end of the spectrum—polar opposite to the use of probiotics on the skin—are antibacterial soaps, particularly those containing triclosan. In 1978 the FDA proposed to regulate antibacterial soaps and allow on the market only those it determined were safe and effective. However, the agency created a loophole for most of the chemicals: the FDA stated there was not enough data to say the chemicals were safe or effective, yet allowed them to stay on the market until the agency finalized its proposal.
Nearly four decades later, the FDA has still never made a final determination, but triclosan’s use in consumer products has mushroomed—it’s now found in an estimated 75% of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the US. The chemical is also found in mouthwash, toothpaste, and toys.
Bowing to pressure, the FDA’s researchers finally plan to deliver a review this year on the effectiveness and safety of triclosan and a close relative, triclocarban, used in bar soaps. The agency then plans to take action by 2016. Depending on what the FDA finds, a $1 billion industry could be affected.
There is mounting evidence that the side effects of triclosan and triclocarban are dangerous:

  • Animal studies have shown that both of these chemicals can interfere with hormones critical for normal development and function of the brain and reproductive system.
  • Triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone and testosterone, which could result in altered behavior, learning disabilities, or fertility problems.
  • Triclocarban has been shown to artificially amplify the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, which could promote the growth of breast and prostate cancer. It also can cause muscle damage.
  • Furthermore, laboratory studies suggest that triclosan and triclocarban may be contributing to antibiotic resistance in bacteria known to cause human infections. Infections caused by bacteria with resistance to at least one antibiotic have been estimated to kill more than 60,000 hospitalized patients each year.

For all these reasons, the Kaiser Permanente system of hospitals banned triclosan in 2010.
One doesn’t have to look far to find other examples of toxins that the FDA has refused to study despite wide human exposure: BPA, non-ionizing radio waves (used in smart meters, cell phones, baby monitors, microwaves, and Wi-Fi); GMOs; and the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics for animals, which the FDA is thirty-five years late in reviewing.
Despite the abundant scientific evidence to the contrary, the FDA’s current position is that triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. In fact, the agency considers triclosan a “superfluous” chemical, and even says triclosan is no more effective at killing bacteria than soap and water! So why is it allowed?
Frustratingly, the FDA’s proposed rule would require manufacturers to provide more substantial data to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness only of antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. It does not apply to hand sanitizers, hand wipes, or antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings such as hospitals, nor to products that are ingested like mouthwash.
Meanwhile, many of the “germs” we kill are actually essential to our bodies’ natural, optimal bacteria balance. They act as probiotics for your gut and skin; are naturally anti-inflammatory; and boost the immune system.
Action Alert! The FDA is asking for public comment on the agency’s 2014–2018 priorities. Contact the agency and point out that a review of triclosan is not mentioned anywhere in priorities. Demand that they stick to their stated 2016 deadline, and suggest they issue draft a proposal by 2015 on triclosan to give the public time to review and comment. Please send your message immediately!


  1. Every day I shower and express my gratitude for the luxury of clean water. I am presently trying to “finish” my bar soaps (none of which are non-bacterial) and shampoo/conditioners due to the palm oil crisis. I plan to use only baking soda and apple cider vinegar so I will no longer contribute to the dangerous dilemma of triclosan and all the other harmful ingredients we continue to pour into the environment. I do not feel that the FDA nor the EPA are as concerned about the issues as I am, and to me that is scary. I cannot imagine a world where I will no longer be able to bathe in clean water. Too many people take it for granted every day of their lives. I will never take water for granted. It is our MOST precious resource and we should all be doing everything to protect it.

  2. `Triclosan and triclocarban have been shown to be dangerous and have been banned by Kaiser Permanente since 2010. I am more than disappointed int the FDA’s track record of protecting us from dangerous chemicals and additives. Please stick to your deadline for studying these chemicals, and issue a draft proposal for public comments by 2015.

  3. Unless one is using toxic antibiotic soaps, normal bathing does not “kill germs”. It removes surface dirt, excess oil, etc. Soaking in water soothes the body and the mind. Someone seems confused about the purpose of bathing. And what good would it do anyway if your bathing did kill all the “germs” on your skin? As soon as you get out of the bath, dry off, dress and go back into the rest of your world, you’ve contacted all sorts of germs that are right back on your hide.

  4. The FDA is either 1) inept at their function or 2) very adept at ‘thinning’ or weakening the population of those persons with “minority genes”. It has been proven time and again in scientific studies that triclosan, HCH, BHC, PCB’s, and nerve agents as found in pesticides are even more harmful to minorities than Caucasians…They adhere to fat cells of minorities whereas Whites eliminate them easily in urine and feces. (Alien theorists will say they are Aliens, now!) I love to point out that if Princess Dianah were alive today, she would have those ‘minority’ genes most affected by environmental toxins since her great great grandma was Indian (from India) and Asian genes are more affected. Which again, leads me to believe that these chemicals may be ‘intentionally’ introduced to ‘thin out’ the minority population and or cause impairments, lower IQ, ill health, etc in foreign countries as well…while those very few true “Whites” (Blue Bloods) continue to reign supreme and unaffected.
    Zyclon B was the “antibacterial, delouser, cleanser and…oh yeah…chemical used to gas a few million people of minority genes”…Are not those the same uses as the triclosan as found in antibacterial soap, lice and tick and scabies shampoo? I think this is NOT an accident. Unless you’ve had your DNA tested and know 100% you are in the clear (which few are)…and don’t care about wildlife or anyone but yourself, you need not worry about these chemicals in our world. As for me? I care. Unless things improve with Gina McCarthy running the EPA now…I say we pay them for doing…nothing. In that case, they need to find new jobs.

  5. When is the FDA going to stop working for corporations and the rich. When are they going to listen to the people

    1. Not anytime soon, Jeanette Helms. There is no money in healthy people, so the FDA is in bed with Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Ag, and all those agencies. Unfortunately, it is up to us as individuals to be our own health advocates.

  6. As a recovering Late stage Lyme disease patient, I am all for supporting the immune function of my body and as a advocate for probiotics for my gut integrity, I will support this mode of treatment of my skin.

  7. Yeah, we will stop bathing when we stop getting dirty. There probably wont be any of us left by then to bathe. I shower to feel clean and get dirt off me, not to disinfect myself.

  8. A review of triclosan is not mentioned anywhere in your priorities. Please stick to your stated 2016 deadline, and please issue draft a proposal by 2015 on triclosan to give the public time to review and comment.

  9. I am not a “doctor” and the following is just my opinion but maybe something here will work for someone. I do not use hand sanitizers and whatever triclosan is and I teach in the public school system. Grade school children worship hand sanitizer. It is even someones assigned job at lunch. Can you believe it? I rarely get sick. Here is what I do instead. I wash my hands frequently with soap and water and dry them. What a concept! I also eat a small portion of organic dark fruit such as blueberries or blackberries almost everyday and drink organic green tea everyday lots of antioxidants there. I also have food allergies and I am strict about avoiding these foods because if consumed they would work against my immune system. Many people go through life with stomach and intestine problems, as well as severe pain such as sciatica, lower back spasm or plantar fasciitis not realizing these might be caused by food intolerance’s. I believe more severe auto-immune diseases could be lessened by avoiding certain trigger foods and chemicals. I also avoid cane sugar which I believe to be one of the most inflammatory things you can consume. I also try to raw foods often as cooking food kills the essential enzymes. I also eat almost entirely organic and eat Heirloom foods when I can find them. I get as much sleep as I can and exercise. I also laugh a lot which I think is also medicinal.

  10. Dear Sirs
    A review of triclosan is not mentioned anywhere in priorities. I suggest the FDA stick to the stated 2016 deadline, and suggest you issue draft a proposal by 2015 on triclosan to give the public time to review and comment.
    thank you

  11. July 9, 2014, when trying to “take action” on the FDA;s upcoming opinion statement, my computer is “misdirected” to a page of search results . . .
    this looks to be an attempt to prevent participation in your project of getting citizen participation.

  12. You can’t destroy every “germ” on the human body. It’s physically impossible, since were are one GIANT ECOSYSTEM!
    All you’re doing with this stuff is creating resistant strains of SUPER BUGS and killing non-pathogenic organisms that were intended by nature to work in conjunction with the body for healthful results.

  13. You can’t destroy every “germ” on the human body. It’s physically impossible, since were are one Giant Eco-system!
    All you’re doing with this stuff is creating resistant strains of Super Bugs, and killing off non-pathogenic organisms that were intended by nature to work in conjunction with the body for healthful results

  14. Everyone seems to be missing the boat here. The main purpose of bathing is to wash away dead and dried sweat. Yes you can dry brush but then it will end up on the floor and have to be mopped, swept or vacuumed. A shower is just easier.

  15. I agree with Zack, I can’t fall asleep if I feel sticky like fly paper, dirty and sweaty. Gotta wash before going to bed. And therefor cannot imagine putting any liquids, oils, creams, probiotics, on my body either. I’ll swallow my probiotics before breakfast.

  16. Interesting and not surprising. The cloven hoof faction comes at civilization from all angles and never misses any nasty trick. I shudder thinking at pharmaceutical contamination of public water supplies. I’ve even seen water filtering devices at Target Stores that boast how they don’t remove chlorine. Huh? Chlorine is a nutrient now (like mercury in shots)?

  17. I don’t use antibacterial soap anymore, nor do I use Purell. I take a little travel size container of my own natural liquid hand soap when I am out in public because all that is available is that antibacterial crap. I quite like showering, so I wouldn’t enjoy just spraying my body with some pro-biotic spray.

  18. Hell no so while I do not shower every day I never give up showering when needed but I be blessed with no body order so I do not even need under arm deodorant unless I outside on a hot day for a while.
    and for so called anti biotic soap which kill 99% of bacteria just creates more of the 1% that survives to reproduce just more and more generations that are more immune till the soap will kill nothing

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