14 Jun

Antiseptics

Everyday, a variety of antiseptics are used to control and/or kill microorganisms. Hospitals disinfect areas using strong chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite, which is identical to houshold bleach. Doctors and nurses use alcohol to swab areas where a needle will be injected. Betadine is used on skin prior to surgeries to ensure that bacteria does not cause infection. Municipalities use chlorine to prevent the spread of bacteria in drinking water and chemical agents are added to food to prevent spoilage. Antiseptics are agents that inhibit or kill microorganisms on living tissue while disinfectants are more harsh and used on non living objects. Some disinfectants are referred to as sterilants or sporocides, which mean they destroy all microbial life including endospores. Ethylene oxide is an example of a sterilizer that is used to sterilize objects that can’t be exposed to high heat. Sanitizers, such as those used in the food industry, reduce microbial numbers to safe levels but do not eliminate all microbes. Agents that are bacteriostatic inhibit the growth of bacterial cells but do not kill them.