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Old 12-17-2008, 12:01 PM
Jormungandr Jormungandr is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 926
Bleach resistant bacteria

One of the reasons I've heard for superbugs besides the overuse of antibiotics is the use of items such as anti-bacterial soaps. Nowadays, products contain bleach for sanitizing against bacteria. Is it possible that the overuse of bleach will result in bacteria resistant to it as well such that nothing will ever sanitized the cutting board of salmonella from the chicken dinner?
Old 12-17-2008, 01:22 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,431
Biofilms. Anti-microbial soap does not contain antibiotics. It contains antimicrobials. I'm not certain if resistance to these has been established except for the fact that bacteria can form biofilms. Biofilms are a relatively new discovery to researchers. Ordinarily a bacteria will behave as an individual single cell organism. In a biofilm, one or more types of bacteria form a cohesive unit that is virtually impenetrable to standard treatment. People that have artificial joint sometimes develop biofilm colonies on their posthesis and in such a case only a regular dose of antibiotics or a new joint can help. A biofilm is not the same as a superbug. Individually, I believe that antibiotics still work on the bacteria in a biofilm, but the conglomerate of a biofilm is essentially indestructible.

Even so, I suspect multiple uses of strong bleach will kill a biofilm. Bleach is a strong oxidant and it is very difficult to imagine how anything could develop an impenetrable defense to it. Hypochlorite is a small ion, so it will ilkely get through any cell membrane eventually.
Old 12-17-2008, 01:43 PM
surfgator surfgator is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1

Possible, but not as likely.

Antibiotics target a specific mechanism involved in cell survival/propagation (e.g penicillin inhibits cells from developing a cell wall). Antibiotic resistance is conferred to a bacterium by providing it with a shield or some type of specific ability to bypass the effect of antibiotics (usually in the form of DNA).

Bleach and the active ingredients in soap show multiple and massive mechanisms involved in killing bacteria. This ultimately makes it more difficult for bacteria to acquire/evolve resistance to bleach. I think of the analogy that antibiotics work like a machine gun while bleach works like napalm.

That said, bacteria are able to live in all kinds of conditions. And bleach resistant bacteria do already exist.
Old 12-17-2008, 01:54 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,431
It might be a nitpick, but I don't see where your site indicates bleach-proof bacteria. It seams to suggest a mechanism for bleach-resistant bacteria, but not really demonstrating that they exist. I'm suprised to find that it suggests normal cell defences produce hypochlorite. Even so, normal defences don't produce hypochlorite in the concentrations that we use it. Bleach resistance I'll beleive. Bleach proof bacteria doesn't make sense.

ETA: My mistake, you did say "bleach resistant" not "bleach proof".

Last edited by WarmNPrickly; 12-17-2008 at 01:55 PM.


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