Project 21 New Visions

Cherylyn Harley LeBon

Save the Suds from Environmental Extremism


by Cherylyn Harley LeBon (bio)

 

Washington is regulating the common light bulb out of existence and raiding America's medicine cabinet. Now, the Obama Administration's EPA is preparing to go after soap!

Remember the hand sanitizing gels that were on virtually every countertop, desk and in every restaurant during the 2009 swine flu scare? They were promoted at the time by the Centers for Disease Control as a means of preventing the spread of the deadly disease.

Spurred by radical environmentalists, the EPA could be on the verge of trying to ban one of the key ingredients in many hand sanitizer gels, soaps, toothpastes and other health and wellness products.

Americans have safely used bacteria-killing products to protect against germs for generations. Anti-bacterial hand washes are used every day in our schools to stop the spread of viruses and keep our kids healthy. Hospitals use similar products to maintain sterile environments. Dentists have safely used anti-bacterial mouthwashes for years in the treatment of gum and other oral diseases.

As a mother, I personally want to know that the best products are available to keep my kids healthy. For example, my son's preschool routinely has cases of communicable illnesses. They just had a case of strep throat, and last month it was pinkeye. Every night, the janitorial staff wipes down the classrooms and toys with antibacterial solutions to further avoid the spread of germs.

Such peace of mind may be gone now that the government may be forcing fundamental changes upon items such as soap, mouthwash and deodorant.

After being petitioned by a coalition of special interests, the EPA recently began the process of collecting public comments regarding a ban on triclosan — a key ingredient safely used in antibacterial soaps since the 1920's. Countless Americans use it daily to wash their hands to prevent the spreading of germs.

Before banning triclosan based on the demands of the environmental lobby, perhaps the EPA should consult the FDA. In its "What Consumers Should Know" description of triclosan on its web site, the Food and Drug Administration reports that "triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans" and "data showing effects in animals don't always predict effects in humans." Furthermore, "there is clear evidence that triclosan provides a benefit" and that "FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use."

Congressional conservatives are steadfast in efforts to beat back Obama's EPA. Recent committee hearings, for instance, have exposed the consequences that the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions will have upon the job market. But fighting the bureaucracy on so many fronts can sometimes be an uphill battle for even the most tenacious lawmaker.

Unfortunately for hardworking Americans, the cost of the EPA's action will make energy prices higher, drive jobs overseas and force more citizens to the unemployment line. Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has become a job-killing machine.

Now, it may even rob us of our favorite soaps and toothpastes.

Environmental activists want to use the EPA's administrative rulemaking power to stop the use of triclosan. Nanny-state advocates argue that the use of anti-bacterial soaps and triclosan endanger our health, but try imagining a preschool, nursing home or pediatric ward of a hospital without it.

Commonsense Americans are drawing the line. To save the suds, an online petition at www.handsoffepa.com is asking the EPA "to resist the pressure from environmentalists" and not ban the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps and other life-saving products.

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Cherylyn Harley LeBon is a member of the National Advisory Council of the Project 21 black leadership network and a former Senior Counsel on Senate Judiciary Committee. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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