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Antibacterial soaps

June 16, 2007

In the category ‘Weird Science’ an article appeared on the site of Scientific American about antibacterial products. More and more antibacterial products are used, but to what avail?
Normal soaps wash away ‘nonspecifically’, “meaning they wipe out almost every type of microbe in sight—fungi, bacteria and some viruses—rather than singling out a particular variety.
On the other hand, after applying antibacterial products, conditions may arise which may actually help the resistent bacteria, because not all bacteria may be killed. In fact, “a small subpopulation armed with special defense mechanisms can develop“, so that these bacteria develop a tolerance and reproduce. This, in turn, may help the bacteria in growing resistant to certain antibiotics.
A problem that arises is that, at least in America, certain antibacterial compounds are found in “60 percent of America’s streams and rivers“, and may eventually end up in crops.
In the end, the advise is to wash your hands 3 times a day with regular soaps, and leave the antibacterial soaps at hospitals.

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