It has been said that the apocalypse will come in the form of nuclear war, runaway climate change, a genetically-modified pandemic, or a meteor slamming into the earth. While these make great summer blockbusters, there is, in fact, a very real threat looming on the horizon: the specter of antibiotic resistance, brought on, in part, by the careless, heavy, and indiscriminate use of biocides.
A biocide, for the purposes of this piece, refers to the active chemicals used to control the growth of or kill bacteria. It can be an antibiotic, which is used to eradicate bacterial infections in people and animals, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways through which they work: some, such as ammonium compounds, destabilize the cell membrane and promote protein aggregation. Others, such as triclosan, inactivate a particular biological activity that eventually kills the bacteria. Still others are simple chemical compounds that are highly reactive, such as chlorine. Killing bacteria is a €10 billion industry – one that only keeps growing as bacteria get harder and harder to kill.
Part of the problem is that many of the chemical compounds persist in the environment. This is problematic for several reasons. First, because they are not readily degraded, many different bacteria have ample time to develop resistance to these compounds. But even bacteria that are not exposed to these compounds can acquire resistance by swapping plasmids.
Additionally, some compounds become more concentrated at every step of the food chain, which may have devastating effects on larger animals and even humans.
Authorities are accelerating education to put constraints on unlimited use of antibiotics and other biocides.
Chemists are attacking the problem from several angles: naturally occurring compounds found in exotic plants of the South American rain forest show some promise. Other methods, such as incorporating hydrogen peroxide and silver ions, are more broad-spectrum in their activity. Bacteria do not develop immunity to H2O2 and Ag.
The Sirius Effect:
Sirius does not sell compounds that are specifically biocides, but many of the detergent ingredients in our product line have biocidal properties. Products, such as our Cocobrite soap noodles, may not be biocidal, but still play an important role in our daily hygiene practices. The combination of Britebleach SPC and an activator such as Britebleach TAED generates peroxy acids that are not only very effective against bacteria, but are readily degraded to simple, environmentally friendly compounds. Want to learn more about the surprising properties of some of our products? Call us and ask.
© Copyright Sirius International Detergents BV | Sirius International Water Treatment BV