"If you put a poison in the air in hospital nurseries that kills 50% of babies, after enough centuries you'll have a human population that's resistant to the poison. But if you go in there with a flamethrower you'll just have a lot of dead babies because, well, it's a flamethrower."
Alcohol-based solutions that are anti-bacterial dissolve the lipid membrane around the bacteria. They can't really develop a "resistance" to this.
Yes, but that's not what triclosan does. It inhibits bacterial metabolism by binding to certain enzymes, which bacteria can evolve resistance to (by evolving different enzymes or other changes to metabolic pathways).
"If you drop a truck from 50 feet on a group of people, and two managed to survive, it doesn't mean they became more resistant to a truck falling on their heads."
Depends on why they survived I guess. If they lived because they happened to have particularly thick skulls and managed to pass it on to their children, you could indeed argue that overuse of truck dropping can lead to resistance in the human population.
And even in the real case of bacterial resistance it isn't that they (the individual bacteria)actually become more resistant; they were already resistant and now they have the opportunity to pass on their genes to a much larger fraction of the population, changing the gene ratios significantly. By definition that is evolution.
the air is stringently filtered, the floors are cleansed with certified cleaning agents, and surfaces are wiped with alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, then heated to temperatures high enough to kill almost any living thing.
Basically bacteria will evolve to survive in virtually whatever hellish environment you want to come up with.
People are grieving and gently pointing out that perhaps other analogies might be better. There's no ranting nor pitchforks. Just a polite gentle reminder that the loss of a child is an incredibly traumatic thing.
That's a reasonable point. The analogy isn't so amazing that it is crucial to understanding. It cod easily be tweaked.
I would have used it unmodified, but now i will try to change it to avoid dead children.
Yes it will. "Antibiotic" is just a name for a particular kind of antibacterial compound that's put in a pill and given to sick people so it can work inside their bloodstream. The general point about bacteria evolving resistance applies to any antibacterial chemical, not just the ones in pills.
[Edit: It's possible that by "soap that is merely antibacterial without using antibiotics" you mean just ordinary soap, with no chemicals added; but that's not what the article is talking about, it's specifically talking about triclosan, an antibacterial chemical.]
What? No! No, we didn't do well at all! Child mortality in the US was 20% just a hundred years ago. What killed everyone? Infectious disease. Yeah, the entire human population didn't die out. Obviously your great grandparents both survived long enough to reproduce. Go check how many of their aunts, uncles, siblings, and children didn't.
The past sucked. Wealth and technology has made it much, much better. There are some drawbacks, but let's not pretend we were doing just fine without.
Yes, but "antibacterial hand soap in home bathrooms" isn't one of the ways that technology has made the world better than the past, except, perhaps, for people selling antibacterial hand soap.
Technology has made many positive changes to the world, but that doesn't mean that every use of technology is positive.
Only a small percent of bacteria would be exposed to the soap so it wouldn't have a huge selection pressure. Chemicals used to kill bacteria outside the body are generally much harsher and harder to build resistance to than antibiotics which have to avoid killing human cells. So I don't think resistance is very likely.
I don't know if there is an advantage of antibacterial soap, but humanity hasn't "survived just fine" with regular hand soap. Washing hands to prevent infection wasn't even common until the past century or so.
Well, it actually is. The debate about whether using Triclosan-containing soap while caring for patients is appropriate is occurring in the medical field. I saw at least one paper out there discussing it in that context (sorry, no url) but I assumed the soap they're using has a higher concentration of triclosan than what you'd pickup in the grocery store. In retrospect I'm not certain that's true.
If a desk is infected with some deadly virus or bacteria, then cleaning the desk with chemical is apparently the right thing to do.
But if not, because that odd is low than compare to not washing your hand after taking a poop, then sure cleaning your desk with chemical is not a top priority. I don't clean my desk with chemical. I apply water and I wipe it, unless the stain can only be removed with chemical. Because I know that my desk will just be as dangerous as the rest if I continue to let it expose to the open air. But what is immediate threat to me? Sleeping late, exposing myself in a crowd coughing, not washing my hands after restroom, no shower for a week, and eating junk food every day makes me weaker.
I consider foam soap to be one of the great advances of the past few decades.
Maybe I was over reacting a bit, I'm admittedly not sure how store-bought foam soap is produced. I just search around quickly and see that the prime ingredient in most foam soaps is (unsurprisingly) water, but they're also pumped full of other stuff.
EDIT: You might find "Bacteria Living on Antibiotics" blog post interesting though: http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=239
If you do just want to give it away, I'm not sure what to suggest. I wouldn't pour it down the drain or put it in the trash, but taking it to a household toxics center seems overly fussy, considering the amount people are using. Maybe just ask your neighbors to find one who already uses it and give it to them.
Immunity to antibiotic drugs arises faster when people don't take their full course of medications. Intermittent exposure means that bacteria with any resistance can survive, and this resistance can be built on to full immunity. "Always take the full, prescribed course of antibiotics" and all that.
Or save it for special occasions (which is what it was designed for). For example people are sick in the house, or you just cleaned out something really disgusting.
Have there been any studies on the bacterial resistance impact of EtOH gels? Natural selection will find a way to prevent cell membranes from being dissolved. Nature is a great hacker.
They're an excellent substitute, but not a stop-gap, especially not in the concentrations available through retail in the U.S.
This is one of those things where I take the elitist path and my palm hits my forehead at high velocity.
Disease, illness, death, it's all a part of life, and some ridiculous washing ritual which consumes a significant portion of your daily thought process will not keep any of it at bay. I know hypochondriacs and obsessive cleaners who are sick almost year-long, who almost die every time a cold hits their town.
But it's a tough sell, living life on the edge like that. Isaac Asimov has gotten pounded these last days, but this scare is another symptom of what he predicted: Man has taken further steps away from nature. This is another aspect we fear, one the majority does not understand as anything except what kills us. Truth is, in my opinion, sickness is what keeps us alive.
My understanding is that washing really does help to keep these things away, and washing with soap helps more; it's not a ridiculous idea that a different kind of soap could be even more effective, and antibac soap takes no more effort than any other kind.
And I am totally in favour of making disease, illness and death be as-small-as-possible parts of life, and not parts at all, if possible.
Modern sanitary practices have saved literally millions of people. Not hand washing alone perhaps, but it is a significant factor.
Humans now live in populations of millions of other people that are constantly in close contact with each other, and people travel more and faster than ever before all across the globe. Be thankful we haven't had more plagues.
This is why it's important for its removal from soap to be public policy. We only benefit when we all stop using it. If I stop using it, but everyone else continues, I gain nothing (excluding reasons 3 and 4). So I have no individual motivation to stop.
(I hope it's obvious that I intend "I" in some sort of generic sense in the above.)
Everything since has just been feature creep.
I use a single type of bar soap around the house for washing my hands, showering and shaving. Works just fine, not to mention probably saving me a pretty penny every year. On top of that, the dry skin problems I had with liquid soap are gone.
I would point out that soap, by its very nature, removes oil from skin (including sebum) "drying" it out. You may have been using an overly harsh (read: effective) liquid soap, but for many people, all soaps will dry out their skin to the point where they could use something like lanolin to rehydrate it.
Having said that, now that I've Googled the Roman lead pipe fact I learned in High School I have found that to be in question as well, so really I don't know what to trust ever.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is question everything.
Neither were considered to have many (any?) symptoms of lead poisoning either, so I am somewhat skeptical of widespread significant health effects from their use of lead pipes.
I've found it exceedingly difficult to tell whether commercial soaps are antibacterial or not, because flaunting the opposite of antibacterial makes the soap seem ineffective.
Soaps and products containing triclosan are considered over-the-counter drugs by the FDA, so any soaps in the US containing triclosan are required to list it as an active ingredient in the "Drug Facts" box on the label.
I'm only half-joking. Maybe "polarizing"? That's essentially what soap is doing: it's a polarizing agent that helps bacteria wash away. It's a word that's sufficiently confusing sounding to pass as a decent marketing term, and it's not wrong!
This is probably true. But do soaps in general have the potential to create soap-resistant bacteria?
Well-cleaned surfaces are now known to harbor strep bacteria for months. Perhaps this is (to some extent) because bacteria has adapted to stick to materials much better than before we used soap?
In a daycare, cleaning is spraying and wiping. Keeps stuff clean, but clean doesn't mean sanitized. (Although I donut that is needed)
You probably had to bathe in antibacterial soap to do that but still..
But when the immune system is not capable of handling them, you become sick.
You have to pump about 5-7 times to get any amount of soap, then you get maybe 5 seconds of frigid ice cold water that you can hardly stand keeping your hands under, with no water pressure at all, then it stops. You either have to press a button again or wait for the sensor to detect you again, which of course takes a while. This goes on for some time. It encourages you to half ass or skip the hand washing procedure. Companies I guess think public health is less important than saving on the water bill.
1. Wet hands
2. Apply soap
[ water stops ]
3. Lather well into crevasses
If you are washing grease off your hands then you actually do want to apply the soap/washing up liquid first.
In this way the grease-loving end of the whatever-it-is molecules stick to the grease before the water-loving end gets to adhere to water. You can then remove the grease from your hands using less soap and with less water.
Also you should always silently sing the happy birthday song to yourself whilst washing your hands to make sure enough friction goes on for long enough to get the job done...
World Health Organization:
American Red Cross:
I read that doing so minimises the risk of irritation, however, isn't that the same as locally diluting the soap? Is that the only reason?
"When is clean too clean" (or something like that) is the CDC document.
I've also heard that wet hands then soap makes for better coverage. I'd think that either way would work the same if peoe took enough time and effort with washing.
I would really like to know - with science - what the best method is. I suspect that at one point someone had to write a set of instructions and so that's what we've been doing ever since.
I'm no biology or chemistry expert so I might not have this completely right, but here's how I understand it.
Soaps are a surfactant, when you add water (dilute? You aren't pouring water on it, come on!) you "activate" the soap and that forms micelles. This is the "lather" reaction. This is good, we want this for cleaning.
>. So when you put soap in water, the ends of the soap molecules that are attracted to it latch on right away and the other ends stick straight up in the air. Any soap molecules trapped underneath will fight their way to the surface and eventually you end up with three layers: a layer of soap molecules, a layer of water and another layer of soap molecules pushing themselves away from the main body of water underneath. These three layers form the wall of a bubble .... The different ends of soap molecules are also what make soap so good at cleaning. As you learned earlier, when you mix soap with water, it lowers the surface tension of the water by separating the water molecules, as the soap molecules push up between them. Meanwhile, the other ends of the soap molecules that are attracted to dirt grab on to it. As multiple soap molecules attach themselves to the same piece of dirt, they eventually break it down into tiny particles, which then can easily be washed away
This is most noticed with bar soap, but I still say you can't form a proper lather with liquid soap without wetting your hands first, and it doesn't cover the entirety of your hands (backs, between the fingers) unless you use a TON and I mean a TON of soap.
Those are aimed at clinicians, who are unlikely to be covered in grease.
It does say "Antigingivitis" on the box, but that does not necessarily imply an antibacterial toothpaste. Crest also says "Antigingivitis", but they accomplish that with stannous fluoride rather than something like triclosan.
"Over-the-counter mouthwashes are ineffective at killing MRSA biofilms..."
Antibacterial and antibiotic soaps do something extra of a chemical nature that acts on the bacteria to kill it.
The study, entitled, “The effects of triclosan on puberty and thyroid hormones in male wistar rats,” was reviewed by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and approved for publication in Toxicological Sciences. Researchers measured blood concentrations of testosterone and several other types of hormones and weighed a variety of organs that are essential for rat development and puberty, including the pituitary gland, the testes, the prostate gland and the liver of male rat pups fed an oral dose of triclosan for 31 days. The purpose of the experiment was to determine what effects triclosan would have on concentrations of thyroid hormones and the onset of puberty. 
This study demonstrates that triclosan exposure does not alter androgen-dependent tissue weights or onset of PPS; however, triclosan exposure significantly impacts thyroid hormone concentrations in the male juvenile rat.
Could someone for the love of all things natural please elucidate on how relevant, in general, are rodent studies and fish studies to the physiology and therefore the prophylaxis of humans?
For every two or so multi-year studies done on humans there seem to be dozens, if not hundreds, done on rats, fish and ferrets. /s/
Anatomically speaking, aren't pigs much better candidates, in that they much more closely resemble humans? There have been organ transplants from pigs, right?
To me, bacteria are just another force of nature like wind or chemicals: harmful or harmless depending on context more than anything else. Table salt will kill you if you ingest 300g of it, but small amounts are healthy. Example with bacteria: E. coli, which is beneficial in its right place (the gut) but harmful elsewhere.
Also, with the bacteria it isn't so much where they are as it is that there is usually a lot of variation within each species, with only some of the varieties being virulent.
I do keep alcohol wipes in my car because I don't always have access to a sink when I'm out. And let's face it, some people are worse than pigs when it comes to personal hygiene.