Thursday, June 21, 2007

Are We Breeding Super-Germs Each Time We Use Hand Sanitizers?

Unlike these traditional cleaners, antibacterial products leave surface residues, creating conditions that may foster the development of resistant bacteria, Levy notes. For example, after spraying and wiping an antibacterial cleaner over a kitchen counter, active chemicals linger behind and continue to kill bacteria, but not necessarily all of them.

When a bacterial population is placed under a stressor—such as an antibacterial chemical—a small subpopulation armed with special defense mechanisms can develop. These lineages survive and reproduce as their weaker relatives perish. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is the governing maxim here, as antibacterial chemicals select for bacteria that endure their presence.

Strange but True: Antibacterial Products May Do More Harm Than Good

Image:Cholera bacteria SEM.jpg

I know a lot of OC (obsessive-compulsive) people who insists on using antibacterial hand sanitizers several times a day. They use it before eating, while working, after shaking hands with strangers, after going to the bathroom, and for good measure, before going to bed. Little do they know that they may be breeding bacteria that are resistant to the particular sanitizer that they are using -- this is according to the article I linked above.

I sure am glad I never picked up this habit. =)

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