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Encyclopedia > Disinfection

Disinfection is the destruction of pathogenic and other kinds of microorganisms by physical or chemical means. Disinfectants are chemical substances used to destroy viruses and microbes (germs), such as bacteria and fungi. The ideal disinfectant would offer complete sterilization, without harming other forms of life, be inexpensive, and non-corrosive. Unfortunately ideal disinfectants do not exist. Many disinfectants are only able to partially sterilize. The most resistant pathogens are bacteria spores but some viruses and bacteria are also highly resistant to many disinfectants. A common alternate meaning of virus is computer virus. ... A microorganism or microbe is an organism that is so small that it is microscopic (invisible to the naked eye). ... Phyla/Divisions Actinobacteria Aquificae Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi Chlamydiae/Verrucomicrobia Chloroflexi Chrysiogenetes Cyanobacteria Deferribacteres Deinococcus-Thermus Dictyoglomi Fibrobacteres/Acidobacteria Firmicutes Fusobacteria Gemmatimonadetes Nitrospirae Omnibacteria Planctomycetes Proteobacteria Spirochaetes Thermodesulfobacteria Thermomicrobia Thermotogae Bacteria (singular, bacterium) are a major group of living organisms. ... Divisions Chytridiomycota Zygomycota Ascomycota Basidiomycota The Fungi (singular: fungus) are a large group of organisms ranked as a kingdom within the Domain Eukaryota. ... Sterilization (or sterilisation) is the elimination of all transmissible agents (such as bacteria, prions and viruses) from a surface or piece of equipment. ... A pathogen or infectious agent is a biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host. ... An endospore is any spore that is produced within an organism (usually a bacterium). ...

All disinfectants are also, by their very nature, potentially harmful (even toxic) to humans or animals. They should be treated with appropriate care. Most come with safety instructions printed on the packaging, which should be read in full before using the disinfectant. Most modern household disinfectants contain Bitrex, an exceptionally bitter substance designed to discourage ingestion, as an added safety measure. Those that are used in people's homes should never be mixed with other cleaning products as chemical reactions can occur. They are frequently used in hospitals, dental surgeries, kitchens and bathrooms to kill infectious organisms. For a list of biologically injurious substances, including toxins and other materials, as well as their effects, see poison. ... Denatonium, usually available as denatonium benzoate (e. ... A chemical reaction is a process that results in the interconversion of Chemical substances . ... A physician visiting the sick in a hospital. ... X-rays can reveal if a person has cavities Dentistry is the practical application of knowledge of dental science (the science of placement, arrangement, function of teeth) to human beings. ... A kitchen is a room used for food preparation. ... A typical American bathroom A bathroom is a room that may have different functions depending on the cultural context it is used in. ...

The choice of the disinfectant to be used depends on the particular situation. Some disinfectants have a wide spectrum (kill nearly all microorganisms). (In the UK there was a long running advert for Domestos bleach in which is was claimed that "Domestos kills all known germs Dead!") Others kill a smaller range of disease-causing organisms but are preferred for other properties (they may not be corrosive, and relatively non-toxic to humans).


A note on terminology

Disinfectants sterilize surfaces, medical equipment and other man-made objects. Antiseptics disinfect skin. Antibiotics either kill or interfere with the life cycle of bacteria inside the body. Substances which kill bacteria are said to have a bactericidal effect, while those which interfere with cell growth and reproduction are said to be bacteriostatic. Disinfectants and antiseptics are bactericidal (some disinfectants are bacteriostatic at low concentrations): antibiotics can be either bactericidal or bacteriostatic. An antiseptic (Greek αντι, against, and σηπτικος, putrefactive) is a substance that prevents the growth and reproduction of various microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses) on the external surfaces of the body. ... An antibiotic is a drug that kills or slows the growth of bacteria. ... A bacteriocide or bactericide is a substance that kills bacteria and, preferably, nothing else. ... Bacteriostatic antibiotics hamper the growth of bacteria by interfering with bacteria protein production, interfering with bacteria DNA production interfering with bacteria cellular metabolism Bacteriostatic antibiotics inhibit growth and repoduction of the bacteria, though do not kill it, while bactericidal antibiotics kill bacteria. ...

Sanitation refers to killing 99+ % of germs in applicable situations. Sanitizers are compounds that sanitize.

Common disinfectants

  • Chlorine – Used to disinfect swimming pools, and is added in small quantities to drinking water to reduce waterborne diseases.
  • Chlorine dioxide – Used as an advanced disinfectant for drinking water to reduce waterborne diseases. In certain parts of the world, it has largely replaced chlorine because it forms fewer byproducts.
  • Sodium chlorite, sodium chlorate, and potassium chlorate have little disinfection effect but are used as precursors for generating chlorine dioxide
  • Alcohol – Usually ethanol or isopropanol – Wiped over benches and skin and allowed to evaporate for quick disinfection. Alcohols are more effective combined with water, 70% alcohol is more active than 95% alcohol. Alcohol is not effective against bacterial spores.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces. It is sometimes mixed with colloidal silver. It is often preferred because it causes far fewer allergic reactions than alternative disinfectants. Also used in the food packaging industry to disinfect foil containers.A 3% solution is also used as an antiseptic. When hydrogen peroxide come into contact with the catalase enzyme in cells it is broken down into water and oxygen. It is the oxygen that kills bacteria. However, as recent studies have show hydrogen peroxide to be toxic to growing cells as well as bacteria, its use as an antiseptic is no longer recommended.
  • Iodine – Usually dissolved in an organic solvent or as Lugol's iodine solution. It is used in the poultry industry. It is added to the birds' drinking water. Iodine is rapidly neutralised by the presence of organic material, so surfaces must be cleaned prior to disinfection. Tincture of iodine has also been used as an antiseptic for skin cuts and scrapes.
  • Ozone – a gas that can be added to water for sanitation.
  • Phenol and other phenolics – The active ingredient in most bottles of "household disinfectant". It is also to found in some mouthwashes and in disinfectant soap and handwashes. Phenol is probably the oldest disinfectant (used by Lister) and was called carbolic acid in the early days of antiseptics. Phenol is rather corrosive to the skin and sometimes toxic to sensitive people, so the somewhat less corrosive substitute phenolic
    o-phenylphenol is often used as part of a disinfectant formula. Hexachlorophene is a phenolic which was once used as an germicidal additive to some household products but was banned due to suspected harmful effects.
  • Potassium permanganate – used to disinfect aquariums.
  • Quaternary ammonium salts (quats) such as benzalkonium chloride are a large group of related compounds. Some have been used as a low level disinfectant. They are effective against bacteria, but not against spores or viruses. Quats are biocides which also kill algae and are used as an additive in large-scale industrial water systems to minimize undesired biological growth.
  • Hypochlorites – Sodium hypochlorite, often in the form of common household bleach, is used in the home to disinfect drains, and toilets. A dilute form is used under the brand name milton to disinfect baby bottles. Other hypochlorites such as calcium hypochlorite are also used, especially as a swimming pool additive. Hypochlorite gives off free chlorine and it is the chlorine that is the true disinfectant. Hypobromite solutions are also sometimes used.
  • Parvo-Virucide – a total biocidal agent (inactivates viruses, bacteria, spores, fungi) used mainly in animal contact areas such as kennels, catteries, veterinary surgeries etc. It can be used in clean and dirty areas contaminated with high levels of organic matter such as urine and faeces without loss of biocidal activity, whereas most disinfectants are severely challenged by organic matter and their effectiveness much reduced.

Parvo-Virucide was originally manufactured to specifically inactivate the Canine parvovirus (CPV), which is a relatively new usually fatal disease affecting puppies. Parvo-virucide was evaluated by the Central Veterinary Laboratory of the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture (now DEFRA) who tested the disinfectant under severe conditions and discovered that "Parvo-Virucide disinfectant inactivated canine parvovirus at a dilution of 1:200 using the UK yeast method". General Name, Symbol, Number chlorine, Cl, 17 Chemical series halogens Group, Period, Block 17, 3, p Appearance yellowish green Atomic mass 35. ... Drinking water Drinking water is water that is intended to be drunk by humans. ... Chlorine dioxide is a reddish-yellow gas which is one of several known oxides of chlorine. ... Drinking water Drinking water is water that is intended to be drunk by humans. ... Manufacture The free acid, chlorous acid, HClO2, is only stable at low concentrations. ... sodium chlorate Sodium chlorate (NaClO3, CAS 7775-09-9) is an oxidizing agent. ... Potassium chlorate is a compound containing potassium, chlorine and oxygen. ... Chlorine dioxide is a reddish-yellow gas which is one of several known oxides of chlorine. ... In general usage, alcohol (from Arabic al-kukhul الكحول, al meaning the and kukhul meaning spirit, the chemical) refers almost always to ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, and often to any beverage that contains ethanol (see alcoholic beverage). ... This article has been identified as possibly containing errors. ... Isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol is a common name for 2-propanol, an alcohol commonly used for application to the skin, and popularly referred to as rubbing alcohol. ... Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water, that has strong oxidizing properties and is therefore a powerful bleaching agent that has found use as a disinfectant, as an oxidizer, and (particularly in high concentrations as high test peroxide (HTP)) as a monopropellant in rockets. ... A physician visiting the sick in a hospital. ... This article needs cleanup. ... link title Catalase Catalase (human erythrocyte catalase: PDB 1DGF, EC 1. ... Ribbon diagram of the catalytically perfect enzyme TIM. An enzyme is a protein that catalyzes, or speeds up, a chemical reaction. ... Water (from the Old English word wæter; c. ... General Name, Symbol, Number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series Chalcogens Group, Period, Block 16, 2, p Appearance colorless Atomic mass 15. ... General Name, Symbol, Number iodine, I, 53 Chemical series halogens Group, Period, Block 17, 5, p Appearance violet-dark gray, lustrous Atomic mass 126. ... Lugols iodine, also known as Lugols solution, is a solution of iodine named after the French physician J.G.A. Lugol. ... Duck amongst other poultry The Poultry-dealer, after Cesare Vecellio. ... For the Moldavian pop group see O-Zone Ozone (O3) is an allotrope of oxygen, the molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms instead of the more stable diatomic O2. ... Phenol, also known under the old name carbolic acid, is a colorless crystalline solid with a typical sweet tarry odor. ... Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister (April 5, 1827-February 10, 1912) was a famous British surgeon who promoted the idea of sterile surgery while working at the Glasgow Infirmary. ... Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is an inorganic chemical compound composed of potassium (K+) and permanganate (MnO4-) ions. ... A 335,000 U.S. gallon (1. ... Categories: Chemistry stubs ... Benzalkonium Chloride is an organic compound that is used as an antiseptic and spermicide. ... Sodium hypochlorite is a chemical compound with the formula NaClO. A solution of sodium hypochlorite is frequently used as a disinfectant and as a bleaching agent; indeed, often it is simply called bleach, though other chemicals are sometimes given that name as well. ... Flush toilet A toilet is a plumbing fixture and a disposal system primarily intended for the disposal of the bodily wastes urine and feces. ... Milton is the name of a number of places: In the United States of America: Milton, Delaware Milton, Florida Milton, Illinois Milton, Indiana Milton, Iowa Milton, Kentucky Milton, Maine Milton High School in Alpharetta, GA Milton, Massachusetts Milton, New Hampshire Milton (town), New York (in Saratoga County) Milton, Ulster County... Species Canine minute virus Canine parvovirus Chicken parvovirus Feline panleukopenia virus Feline parvovirus HB virus H-1 virus Kilham rat virus Lapine parvovirus LUIII virus Mice minute virus Mink enteritis virus Mouse parvovirus 1 Porcine parvovirus Raccoon parvovirus RT parvovirus Tumor virus X Parvovirus, commonly called parvo, is a genus...

  • Toluene
  • Virkon – A wide-spectrum disinfectant used in labs. It kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is used as a 1% solution in water, and keeps for 1 week once it is made up. It is expensive, but very effective, its pink colour fades as it is used up so it is possible to see at a glance if it is still fresh.

In addition to these methods ultraviolet light can be used for disinfecting water. Toluene, also known as methylbenzene or phenylmethane is a clear water-insoluble liquid with the typical smell of paint thinners, reminiscent of the sweet smell of the related compound benzene. ... Virkon is a brand name of the powerful disinfectant, Potassium Peroxymonosulfate/ Sodium Chloride, often used in laboratories for cleaning up spills, soaking equipment or wiping benches. ...

Relative effectiveness of disinfectants

One way to compare disinfectants is to compare how well they do against a known disinfectant and rate them accordingly. Phenol is the standard, and the corresponding rating system is called the "Phenol coefficient". The disinfectant to be tested is compared with phenol on a standard microbe (usually Salmonella typhi or Staphylococcus aureus). Disinfectants that are more effective than phenol have a coefficient > 1. Those that are less effective have a coefficient < 1. Binomial name Salmonella enterica Salmonella enterica is a species of Salmonella bacterium. ... Binomial name Staphylococcus aureus Rosenbach, 1884 Staphylococcus aureus (which is occasionally given the nickname golden staph) is a bacterium, frequently living on the skin or in the nose of a healthy person, that can cause illnesses ranging from minor skin infections (such as pimples, boils, and cellulitis) and abscesses, to...

See also

Sterilization (or sterilisation) is the elimination of all transmissible agents (such as bacteria, prions and viruses) from a surface or piece of equipment. ...

External links

  • Ohio State University lecture on Sterilization and Disinfection
  • What Germs Are We Killing? Testing and Classifying Disinfectants

  Results from FactBites:
Infection Control Today - 01/2001: Disinfection of Bloodborne Pathogens (1393 words)
For the disinfection of bloodborne pathogens knowledge of the basic principles of disinfection is needed to prevent the risk of disease transmission via inanimate objects.
Disinfection is the process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms with the exception of bacterial spores from inanimate objects.
The disinfectant in sufficient concentrations at the correct temperature must remain in contact with the surfaces for a specific period of time to allow penetration of all the microbial cell walls and deactivation.
  More results at FactBites »



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