Threat of Germs and the Politicization of Antibacterial Soap

Germs Continue to Threaten People’s Health as They Have for Centuries
Paul Alexander, author of the book Pandemic: The Story of People vs. Germs

(New York, November, 2012) – Everyone knows that germs can cause diseases, illness, or even death, and that they remain a serious public health threat today. Now, one of the most common household items used to fight against germs is front and center of a political debate best-selling author, Paul Alexander, discusses both the motives behind the push to ban antibacterial soap and the history of germs in his new book, Pandemic: The Story of People vs. Germs.

Alexander’s book details the history of our deadly relationship with germs and how they alone have wiped out entire civilizations. His book also uncovers some surprising revelations, including how Federal agencies cower to pressure from Capitol Hill and that environmental groups have created an atmosphere where elected leaders, the media and public interest groups can get safe products banned. Furthermore, Alexander explains how antibacterial hand soaps are effective and the dangers they pose to the environment and human health are greatly exaggerated by critics.

One of the biggest reasons antibacterial hand soap has become politicized is because of the so-called “risks” associated with triclosan, a chemical found in antibacterial hand soaps. Triclosan is a synthetic compound that has been added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. In Pandemic, Alexander writes that during the 50 years that the chemical has been used as an antimicrobial additive, neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Environmental Protection Agency has found any convincing evidence that the compound is a threat to humans.

While hospital-acquired infections remain the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., Alexander questions why some lobbying groups and politicians want to ban a leading antimicrobial agent proven to be able to kill germs.


Applies to the following Location(s): 

Email us regarding this story.

Instructions to download a media file:


  • Audio - For MP3, right click on the download button  and choose 'save link as' and then save the file to your computer.
  • Audio - For SoundCloud, on the top right of the file under the SoundCloud logo, right click on the download button  and choose 'save link as' and then save the file to your computer.
  • Video - click on the Vimeo link on the player and you will be taken to the file on the Vimeo website where you can choose the type of download you'd like.