chapter  3
18 Pages

The Need for Safer and Better Microbicides for Infection Control

WithSyed A. Sattar, Susan Springthorpe

CONTENTS 3.1 Introduction ................................................................................................. 41 3.2 What Are Some of the Problems with Current Microbicides? ........... 42

3.2.1 Safety and Handling Issues .......................................................... 42 3.2.2 Environmental Toxicity ................................................................. 43 3.2.3 Genotoxicity and Microbial Resistance ....................................... 44 3.2.4 Materials Compatibility ................................................................. 46 3.2.5 Spectrum of Activity ...................................................................... 48

3.3 Innovative Products and Technologies ................................................... 50 3.4 Concluding Remarks.................................................................................. 52 References ............................................................................................................. 53

Microbicides, by their very nature, are highly reactive with a wide range of chemical moieties, which is how they inactivate microorganisms. This very property also makes them relatively hazardous to handle and store, as well as accounting for their systemic and genotoxic effects. Effective use of microbicides thus requires an understanding of their relative properties, and demands that they be diligently and properly applied [1]. While judicious use of these potentially hazardous chemicals can be extremely effective in preventing and controlling the spread of infectious agents and nuisance organisms in critical settings, their widespread and often unnecessary application may be more deleterious than beneficial to humans as well as the environment. As microbicides inevitably, and often immediately, become diluted beyond the point of application, they no longer remain ‘‘killing agents,’’ but instead become just sublethal toxins in the waste stream, where a complex mixture of pathogens and other microorganisms

are exposed and potentially affected [2]. We are just beginning to understand the complexities and risks posed by such mixtures of chemicals and microbes [2-4]. More persistent microbicidal chemicals can cause wider contamination of the environment and enter higher life forms in low doses over extended periods through air, water, and food [5]. The longer-term consequences of such exposures, especially in the young, remain ill defined.