Moms, doctors, and researchers all agree that good hygiene practices such as washing your hands and keeping a clean household are the best guards against many diseases. Disinfectants, soap, and water remain the old standbys for keeping homes and hands clean. However, antibacterial compounds added to dishwashing detergents, lotions, and even fabric have taken the marketplace by storm. Although many scientists in industry believe these products give consumers an added edge against bacteria and other pathogens, some researchers are concerned that widespread use is unnecessary in the home and could render these products--and even antibiotics--ineffective in settings where they're needed most.

BOTTOMS UP: Microban's impregnated plastic retains antibacterial properties through the lifetime of the product. When particles on the surface of an article are removed through abrasion, antibacterial compounds quickly migrate up to the surface to replace them.
However, recent actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have put this...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!