New Disinfectant Danger Discovered:
The Germs Fight Back

Some disinfectant dangers have been known for some time. Now scientists have discovered a new downside to disinfectant use.

It turns out that the little nasties have turned the tables on us, and turned what was supposed to fight them into a weapon of their own.

Researchers at the National University of Ireland have discovered that bacteria which have not even been exposed to antibiotics became resistant to them!


The newly discovered disinfectant danger works, simply stated, like this: after being exposed to disinfectant, the bacteria were able to eliminate not only the disinfectant from their cells, but also antibiotics, even though they had never previously been exposed to the antibiotics!

They were able to defend themselves against humans' first- and second-tier weapons of defeating them, in other words.

First and second of the manmade means of defeating them, that is. More on that a bit later.

Dr. Gerard Fleming led the study. The news release of the Society for General Microbiology quotes Dr. Fleming: “In principle this means that residue from incorrectly diluted disinfectants left on hospital surfaces could promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. What is more worrying is that bacteria seem to be able to adapt to resist antibiotics without even being exposed to them.”

The concept of disinfectant dangers isn't a new one

Scientists have long known that exposure to disinfectants and antiseptics can cause bacteria to become resistant to them. They've also known that some diseases-causing bacteria that survive being bombarded with antibiotics become resistant to those antibiotics and perpetuate that resistance to their "descendants."

But this seems to be one of the first discoveries of resistance to antibiotics being brought on without the antibiotic.

The implications are serious. The double-whammy resistant bacteria pose a special threat to hospital patients.

Who is most at risk?

The researchers in Ireland used pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium which can cause a wide variety of infections, especially among people who are already sick, people with weak immune systems, severely burned patients, and those with diabetes, cancer, HIV, and cystic fibrosis.

Similar disturbing news came from Brazil in 2009. In hospitals there, the bacterium mycobacterium massiliense developed resistance not only to several antibiotics used to treat infections caused by it, but also to a common sterilization fluid.

What you can do about it

  • Use ordinary soap, not anti-bacterial soap, for hands, bathing, and any other uses.
  • Get rid of chemical disinfectants and replace them simple cleaning agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and others for household cleaning.
  • Only go to the hospital if you truly need to and have no other option! The danger of becoming ill from bacteria equipped with the twin defenses is greatest for hospitalized people, according to the BBC article.
  • Do your best to prevent sickness by strengthening your immune system naturally with a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh organic vegetables, sunlight, fresh air, exercise, and the right amount of sleep for you. Don't eat or drink processed foods.
  • Replace stress and negative thoughts and emotions with positive action. Prayer or meditation can help greatly here.

You probably noticed that the last 2 points contain the non-manmade helps to staying healthy we alluded to earlier.

These are just for starters, but they're excellent points of departure for a healthier you!

Other benefits of the natural health strategy of switching to natural cleaners are that they're much kinder to your skin, they're far less polluting, and they almost never trigger allergies or asthma attacks, which chemical cleaners can do.

And remember, taking charge of your health and making intentional, healthy lifestyle and diet choices can go far in keeping you out of the hospital, where the greatest disinfectant dangers lie.


Society for General Microbiology News Release at AlphaGalileo


Full bibliographic information:

P. H. Mc Cay, A. A. Ocampo-Sosa and G. T. A. Fleming
Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of benzalkonium chloride on the competitiveness of Pseudomonas aeruginosa grown in continuous culture Microbiology; 156: 30-38

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