Can Being Too Clean Be Harmful?

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health analyzed data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. According to the outcome of the data they found that young children and teens who are overexposed to the chemical triclosan, found in anti-bacterial soaps, could have an increased risk for developing hay fever and other allergies. This finding actually suggests that being too clean can make people sick the researchers say.

The same study found that bisphenol A (BPA) which is widely used in soaps, toothpaste, plastic products, medical divices and other commonly used items can also weaken the immune systems of adults exposed to higher than normal levels of the chemical. It is believed that BPA effects the immune system through its effects on the human hormonal system.

In this study researchers compared levels of triclosan and BPA in the urine with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hay fever in adults and children over age 6.

“We found that people over age 18 with higher levels of BPA exposure had higher CMV antibody levels, which suggests their cell-mediated immune system may not be functioning properly,” researcher Erin Rees Clayton said in a university news release.

The study findings are published in the Nov. 30 online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.