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Thread: Can Widespread Antibiotic Use Damage our Environments?

  1. #1 Can Widespread Antibiotic Use Damage our Environments? 
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    I am a bit worried about the wide range of household products available which contain antibiotic. For example, at a rare visit to the supermarket, I noted that it was possible to obtain antibacterial toothpaste, washing up liquid, hand soap, washing powder, cream cleaners etc...

    I wonder if this over-use of antibacterial chemicals will raise a huge population of bacteria resistant to antibiotics?

    Has anyone tested for antibiotic resistance, and is there an environmental impact of which we are unaware - either in the human bacterial environment (gut, skin, nose, airways) or in the wider environment (household table tops, waste water from homes, sewage water)?


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    Actually, there's not a lot of danger from these products. The advertisements say 99% of germs killed - it turns out that they do, in fact, kill everything. (Sorry, didn't keep the link.) But there's no guarantee that the products can't be used badly enough to cause partial kills. But these products are unlikely to cause antibiotic resistance in the way that inappropriate or excessive use can lead to resistance from antibiotics used biologically in people and other animals.

    The more important thing is that it promotes the idea that we should all live in an environment as sterile as an operating theatre. And we shouldn't.

    We shouldn't live in filth and squalor but nor should we live as though we were inside a spaceship or a sterile bubble. So long as we keep up with our tetanus shots, bathe regularly if not daily, store and prepare food properly, and keep our clothing, bedlinen and surroundings appropriately clean that is good enough for most people in normal health to stay that way.

    Tougher controls are needed in places like childcare centres, nursing homes and hospitals and some other close living environments - to stop the spread of bacteria and viruses because we know that they will be introduced fairly often and the occupants are especially vulnerable.


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  4. #3  
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    Also note the difference between antiseptic products and antibiotics. Antibiotics are used internally, and do not harm the patient. Antiseptics tend to be used externally, such as in washing hands or on teeth. Antiseptics are usually much harsher than antibiotics and will harm human health if consumed. But they are dynamite on bacteria.
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  5. #4  
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    Anti-septic does not equal anti-biotic. Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or bleach are anti-septics, Penicillin is an anti-biotic.
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  6. #5  
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    I always found the obsession with anti-bacterial cleaners kind of funny. Yes, we should definitely use it for cleaning up after raw chicken or pork, we should make sure we're protected during flu season, etc.

    But I wonder how many people who douse everything they own in chemical cleaners realize they are actually crawling with bacteria inside and out. As is every single surface on our entire planet.

    Everyone else already answered the question, though.
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    I meant anti-bacterial products, including germicides and antibiotics. Therefore with the given germicidal chemicals, is there a chance of resistant strains appearing on the human body environment and also in our general environment?

    In regard to the use of antibacterial agents, I have found the following link from a quick search and this is one of my main worries with regard to the human environment.

    At issue are antibacterial products that include chemicals such as triclosan, which is known for its bacteria-fighting properties. However, antibiotics kill more than the disease-causing bacteria to which they are directed. They kill any other susceptible bacteria. Once the ecosystem is cleared of susceptible bacteria, resistant bacteria can multiply and dominate the environment due to lack of competition, resulting in drug-resistant “superbugs”. The phenomenon can be likened to weeds that have overgrown a lawn where the grass has been completely destroyed by an overdose of herbicides.

    The ubiquity of the antibacterials in soaps “is a worrying thing,” lead researcher Dr. Eli N. Perencevich of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, told the media at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in New Orleans in 2000. He said at the level of usage of antibacterial soap in the typical home, bacteria could easily develop that would be resistant to both antibiotics and the antibacterial soaps themselves
    Dangers of Antibacterial Soap - Natural Life Magazine - frugal, green family living
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    Probably far more harmful than antibiotics, overall, are the enormous quantities of synthetic organic chemicals which have been, and continue to be, dispersed intentionally and unintentionally into the environment.

    I speak of the herbicides, pesticides, and great variety of other substances used both in the past, and still today, in household, commercial, agricultural, transportation, and recreational products, such as bis-phenol, 2,4, d, and many, many others, certain of which mimic human hormones, and are mistaken by the body for them.

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    we could not live without our gut bacteria
    treasure your little friends and feed them well
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Probably far more harmful than antibiotics, overall, are the enormous quantities of synthetic organic chemicals which have been, and continue to be, dispersed intentionally and unintentionally into the environment.

    I speak of the herbicides, pesticides, and great variety of other substances used both in the past, and still today, in household, commercial, agricultural, transportation, and recreational products, such as bis-phenol, 2,4, d, and many, many others, certain of which mimic human hormones, and are mistaken by the body for them.
    There is a lot of exaggerated garbage spoken about these chemicals. You specified bisphenol and 2.4. D.

    Bis Phenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics, and which was once thought to leach out of polycarbonate containers, and enter the blood and urine of people, including infants. This was a belief resulting from analysis results showing BPA in blood and urine, including that of babies. Luckily, a brighter member of the chemical analysis profession woke up to the simple fact that laboratory equipment also contains polycarbonate, and these were releasing BPA and screwing the results. Later work has shown that, by removing all polycarbonate from the laboratory equipment, the analysis of blood and urine actually shows zero BPA levels.

    2, 4 D is, of course, a chlorinated herbicide that is almost totally phased out, and no longer enters the natural environment.

    Before getting onto a high horse and throwing out all sorts of accusations about chemicals, it actually helps to do a little research and to know what you are talking about.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post
    Probably far more harmful than antibiotics, overall, are the enormous quantities of synthetic organic chemicals which have been, and continue to be, dispersed intentionally and unintentionally into the environment.

    I speak of the herbicides, pesticides, and great variety of other substances used both in the past, and still today, in household, commercial, agricultural, transportation, and recreational products, such as bis-phenol, 2,4, d, and many, many others, certain of which mimic human hormones, and are mistaken by the body for them.
    There is a lot of exaggerated garbage spoken about these chemicals. You specified bisphenol and 2.4. D.

    Bis Phenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics, and which was once thought to leach out of polycarbonate containers, and enter the blood and urine of people, including infants. This was a belief resulting from analysis results showing BPA in blood and urine, including that of babies. Luckily, a brighter member of the chemical analysis profession woke up to the simple fact that laboratory equipment also contains polycarbonate, and these were releasing BPA and screwing the results. Later work has shown that, by removing all polycarbonate from the laboratory equipment, the analysis of blood and urine actually shows zero BPA levels.

    2, 4 D is, of course, a chlorinated herbicide that is almost totally phased out, and no longer enters the natural environment.

    Before getting onto a high horse and throwing out all sorts of accusations about chemicals, it actually helps to do a little research and to know what you are talking about.
    Im interested in the BPA papers if you have links
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    I dont have a kindle, does Mr Schwartz give a citation that I could track down?
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    You can, of course, buy the book as a paperback without owning a kindle. Details on the Amazon reference in earlier post. There is more info in the book than you would get from a single reference.

    According to Schwarcz, the key study was called "24 hour Human Urine and Serum Profiles of Bisphenol A During High Dietary Exposure."

    This study was jointly done by a U.S Department of Energy lab, the Centers for Disease Control, and the FDA. I will quote from what Schwarcz said.

    "20 subjects consumed a diet of mostly processed foods that had been in contact with bisphenol A, as in can liners. According to calculations, this puts them in the highest possible category of oral exposure to BPA. Blood samples were taken every hour over a 24 hour period, a type of investigation that had never been conducted before. The samples were sent for analysis of BPA to two independent laboratories that were thoroughly experienced in preventing contamination. In a nutshell, the biologically active BPA levels in the blood throughout the day were below the detection capabilities of the most sophisticated instruments available!"

    That is all the information I have. I would recommend the book, though. It covers a wide range of stuff and is well written and easy to read.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic;410609




    [B
    2, 4 D is, of course, a chlorinated herbicide that is almost totally phased out, and no longer enters the natural environment.
    [/B]
    Before getting onto a high horse and throwing out all sorts of accusations about chemicals, it actually helps to do a little research and to know what you are talking about.
    Sorry, but you are dead wrong here. 2,4 D is being used today in enormous quantities, and is easily purchased without any questions asked by anyone wishing to do so: I have done so myself. Only 2 years ago, the right-of-way easement of an American Electric Company High-Line crossing our property was liberally treated with 2,4 D in stupendous quantities, a fact which troubled the governing agency of National Forest lands, since the routing passes through Mark Twain N.F. Ever see any weeds growing along railroad track rights-of-way? Of course not; guess what they use?

    High horse notwithstanding, I HAVE done the research.; Evidently our sources do not agree, as is common with Internet B.S. If you like, I'll give you a bit more info; however, I do not want to feel it would be wasted time, if the material falls on dead comprehension. jocular
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  16. #15  
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    Overuse of antibiotics are catching up with us in food. When animals are fed antibiotics they gain the ability to grow faster and healthier. The downside is bacteria is becoming resistant to these antibiotics.
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    Overuse of antibiotics are catching up with us in food. When animals are fed antibiotics they gain the ability to grow faster and healthier. The downside is bacteria is becoming resistant to these antibiotics.
    And the reasons why they are used exacerbates the problem. Overcrowded feedlots (feedlots are overcrowded by definition) accumulate excreta at an enormous rate. Far more than can be disposed of by conventional means. Some farmers, far too few, are turning this to good use as methane to run the equipment and lighting.

    Regardless, the runoff from these properties is overloaded with chemicals, including antibiotics, and that always, some time, some where, finishes up in a watercourse. Which is (or should be) full of other animals and other organisms which suffer mightily.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jocular View Post

    Sorry, but you are dead wrong here. 2,4 D is being used today in enormous quantities
    I had to double check this. It is little used in my country, but more in the USA, as it turns out. Out of about 400,000 tonnes total pesticide use each year in the USA, 2,4d makes up 20,000 tonnes, or about 5% of pesticide use.

    However, I further checked on its toxicity, and it is actually not terribly toxic. Oral acute LD50 is moderate only. Evidence indicates it is not carcinogenic, and it biodegrades quite rapidly. The main concerns about 2, 4d were the possibility of it containing dioxins. This is not much of a concern these days, with better manufacturing methods, and batches are, of course, regularly tested for dioxin content.

    So even though more is used in America than I was previously aware of, my comment about the old 'high horse' still applies, since this chemical seems to cause relatively little harm.
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    As a result of overusing them, we are gradually seeing the rise of drug-resistant bacteria - superbugs that are a real danger to our health.Doctors ladled out antibiotics to patients in those days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by luna247 View Post
    As a result of overusing them, we are gradually seeing the rise of drug-resistant bacteria - superbugs that are a real danger to our health.Doctors ladled out antibiotics to patients in those days.
    Just those days? How often does a doctor prescribe an antibiotic for an upper respiratory tract infection or sinusitis when both conditions generally have viral and not bacterial causes? My personal (and impractical) view is that antibiotics should require a positive culture test before they can be prescribed.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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  21. #20  
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    The use of antibiotics is controversial,Many viruses have to use antibiotics.However, overuse of antibiotics will affect their health
    What a headache!!!
    I also agree with you
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat View Post
    My personal (and impractical) view is that antibiotics should require a positive culture test before they can be prescribed.
    Agreed, it takes several days to get a culture result--in the meantime the patient continues to suffer. This is why many docs proscribe a broad spectrum which waiting for the results--once they are back they can switch to a more specific antibiotic if the broad one isn't going to be effective.

    I think it's just a matter of time though, that doctors will be able to apply rapid DNA testing technology to figure out the bacteria in minutes and apply the most effective treatments.
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