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Bacterial culture

An increasing number of products containing chemical substances are being treated to prevent such effects as bacterial growth and bad odour. Everything from clothing and chopping boards to cat litter and toilet seats may have been treated with these pesticides which are known as biocides. The product may be marked with the wording "treated to prevent bad odours", "for lasting freshness", "anti-odour", "hygienic protection" or "antimicrobial". However, antibacterial treatment is not usually needed in these everyday items. It has been shown, for instance, that ordinary cleaning agent and water for removing dirt mechanically work better on an untreated kitchen worktop than they do on a worktop which has been treated with an antibacterial agent.

Antibacterial substances are suspected of helping to promote resistance against antibiotics. This means that the bacteria develop new mechanisms for resisting the effects of antibiotics. This can in turn mean that certain illnesses are harder or else impossible to treat. Triclosan, triclocarban and silver are examples of these antibacterial substances. It has also been shown to harm the bacteria needed for treating water in treatment plants.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has arranged an inspection of how fast antibacterial substances against sweat odour in textiles can be washed out. The inspection showed that after ten washes between 10 and 98 percent of the substances had been washed out. Until we know more about how these substances can damage health and the environment, we ought to consider whether we really need such products.

The EU regulations on biocides mean that products which are claimed to have an antibacterial effect should be labelled, and that the name of the substance producing the claimed effect should be stated in the labelling.

Ask in the shop what the product contains so that you can make a conscious choice. 

Your right to information.

Antibacterial treatment of clothes - does it really have an effect? PM 8/15.

Antibacterial substances leach from clothing when washed. PM 1/12.

Resistance to antibiotics affects the safety to society (the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB)

Biocidal product rules.

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