Are we over-sanitizing?

Are we over-sanitizing?

April 9, 20211 min read

The days of wiping down groceries may be coming to an end, but will American’s reliance on hand sanitizer follow suit? This week, the CDC released a report confirming that the risk of catching the coronavirus from surfaces is low. Dr. Kevin Minbiole, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Villanova University, weighs in on hand sanitizer use, and whether too much sanitizing is a bad thing.

“I think that a lot of the concern on the overuse of hand sanitizer a decade ago or so was the overuse of triclosan, a strong antimicrobial agent that would persist in wastewater,” said Dr. Minbiole, referring to a theory that arose following the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Scientists at that time expressed worry that bacteria were becoming resistant to hand sanitizer. “It seemed like overkill to go beyond soap/water or simply ethanol (aka alcohol), or to add triclosan into hand soap,” Minbiole continued.

While Dr. Minbiole does not dismiss this theory, he notes, “I believe there was merit to the concerns of overapplying antibiotics/antiseptics when they were not needed.”

Looking to the future, Minbiole does not see hand sand sanitizer playing as big a role. “I don’t foresee a backlash so much here, as folks recognize that this particular virus is more of an airborne concern,” he says.

To speak with Minbiole, email

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