Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Anti-anti-bacterial cleanser

Eliminate the scourge of anti-bacterial agents
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The pandemic array of anti-bacterial products threatens us all. For some reason people don't understand basic notions of gradual bacterial resistance to anti-bacterial compounds (even with the notable and very public example of antibiotic over- prescription). The solution: a chemical solution that renders anti-bacterial agents inactive, which could be slipped into/onto any anti- bacterial products one might come by. Then make it public that such a compound exists, so that out of paranoia people turn away from now questionably anti-bacterial agents and resume the sane and adequate practice of washing thoroughly with ordinary soap.
MalibuStarfish, Feb 14 2002

How antibiotics work http://www.howstuff....com/question88.htm
Quick summary of what they are, with links to further sources of more detailed information. [vincebowdren, Feb 15 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Concerns over the use of triclosan http://www.mercola....anti_bacterials.htm
Much material here. [waugsqueke, Feb 15 2002]

Anti-Bacterial Soaps (where triclosan comes from) http://www.herbcott...tters/antisoaps.htm
"... the fungicide cannot be washed from the [anti-bacterial] sponge even if it is placed in the dishwasher (in which case, Agent Orange is now all over your dishes and drinking glasses)." [waugsqueke, Feb 15 2002]

Triclosan Resistant Bacteria http://www.ncbi.nlm...gov/pubmed/16922622
Paper documenting the appearance of bacteria that are unaffected by anti-bacterial products. [AntiQuark, Jul 29 2010]

Ways to break down triclosan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclosan
Wiki page says that triclosan can be broken down by sunlight or chlorine. [AntiQuark, Jul 29 2010]

[link]






       If you want the next generation of kids to be happier and healthier , don't devise new soaps for them...point them toward the sand-box, and let them get their hands dirty, literally and figuratively.
jurist, Feb 14 2002
  

       !
phoenix, Feb 14 2002
  

       Soap has no power to kill bacteria. Vigorous scrubbing may remove them from the affected surface, but that's all. The most bacteria-infested part of your house is probably the wet scum directly under your bar of soap. (Either that, or your kitchen worktop. Forget your toilet, toilets are clean in comparison.)
pottedstu, Feb 15 2002
  

       what on earth do you do with your toothbrush? bliss
po, Feb 15 2002
  

       Well intentioned, but totally unmarketable. Croissant.

The lack of thinking about the "selective pressure" consequences of our actions is an invitation to disaster, and not just in the anti-bacterial craze.
quarterbaker, Feb 15 2002
  

       jurist: yup. A good immune system is what we need.   

       phoenix: ?   

       pottedstu: I think that's the point.   

       MalibuStarfish is suggesting moving bacteria from areas that we want clean e.g. our skin, worksurfaces (my examples) rather than trying to kill the ones that we find there. Any method used to kill bacteria that is not 100% effective will leave those alive that have the highest restistance to the antibacterial agent. The ones left alive will multiply leaving each generation more resistant to the bacterial agent you are using.   

       His solution sounds a bit of a WIBNI*, though.   

       *if confused see help pages.
st3f, Feb 15 2002
  

       There is an enormous difference between anitbiotics (which it is generally agreed are leading to problems with growing resistance among targetted bacteria) and anti-bacterial products used for cleaning. Antibiotics are very specific agents, typically killing only a small range of bacteria, and leaving a person unharmed. This is why they can be used as medicines, and this subtlety of action is also why antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are a problem. Household bleach on the other hand, to take an example of a bacteria-killing cleaning product, is a very harsh unselective poison. These chemicals work by just breaking down complex molecules willy-nilly, which is why they can justifiably claim to kill all known bacteria. It also explains why they can neither be used as medicine, nor can bacteria become resistant to them. P.S. Bacteria turn out to be tougher than we'd expect, e.g. species of bacteria can survive in natural environments that nothing else can go near (extremes of hot and cold for example), but they still don't have a chance against the stuff you use to clean your toilet.
vincebowdren, Feb 15 2002
  

       Sorry, vince, you're just incorrect about that. Bacteria can and do become resistant to agents like triclosan, used in many anti-bacterial products. What it doesn't kill gets stronger and takes over.   

       Not only that, but triclosan is not only toxic to (most) microbes, it's also very toxic to humans. It's derived from 2-4-D, aka Agent Orange. See link.   

       I appreciate the intent, M-S, but I don't see how one could render triclosan inactive. That's a bit of a WIBNI, I'm afraid. If there is a chemical does this, I'm sure the Vietnamese would have loved to have gotten their hands on in back in the early 70s.   

       The simplest (and smartest) thing is to stop purchasing anti-bacterial products altogether.
waugsqueke, Feb 15 2002
  

       Whoops, my mistake. Looks like MalibuStarfish does have a point.
vincebowdren, Feb 15 2002
  

       [M-F-D] magic
Voice, Jul 24 2010
  

       What, after eight years?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 26 2010
  
      
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