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June CMM: Tough Questions About Disinfectants Answered

July 07, 2009
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The June issue of Cleaning & Maintenance Management® magazine is now available online, featuring Allen Rathey''s Tackling Trouble Areas article that answers tough questions about disinfectants.
Q: Since disinfectant products are pesticides, are they just too toxic to use routinely?
A: No doubt about it, we are often "trigger happy" when it comes to trying to destroy germs or microbes, since most are essential to and part of life. We do not want to poison or attempt to routinely destroy all germs. Thus, "routine use" should be restricted to "where needed" to control dangerous pathogens.
Q: Do disinfectants cause antibiotic resistance?
A: It''s misleading to imply or state outright that antibacterial products (i.e., Triclosan) and disinfectants (quats, phenolics, etc.) can — like antibiotics — routinely produce resistant bacteria or "super germs" that endanger public health. At the risk of oversimplifying, while antibiotics impair the functioning of germs leaving some to survive and develop resistance, the consensus among scientists is that disinfectants work somewhat like "sledgehammers" and there is simply nothing left alive to develop resistance.
According to Rathey, cleaning is still the best first line of defense, but due to the effectiveness of disinfectants used properly and where needed, it is not the only one.
Allen P. Rathey is president of Boise, ID-based InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc.
Click here to view the digital version of the June issue.
For related information, click here.
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