Nice to see the FDA digging around into this topic: FDA seeks more data on safety of hospital hand cleaners – The Washington Post. Clearly there is some major value in having people at hospitals (and other helath care facilities) wash their hands often – this is a key step in limiting the spread of pathogens. But that does not mean that scrubbing up in triclosan or triclocarban containing soaps or miscellaneous other antiseptic ingredients is safe or wise. Yes mamny of these foams and gels and soaps make life easier for people wanting to clean their hands. But there may be serious side effects including the selection of resistant microbes, major alterations in skin and other microbiomes, and other physiological effects. In the end, we need to find a better balance between wise measures to prevent the spread of infections and overzealous germophobia.
I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities). In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.