Antimicrobials are used in cleaning products, healthcare settings and industrial settings to help kill dangerous bacteria and prevent the spread of infections.
By helping to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes, antimicrobial chemicals can help keep people from getting sick.
Antimicrobial products are regulated by state and government agencies depending on their intended use.
Manufacturers of antimicrobial products must provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the product label and data on chemistry, toxicology, and efficacy to obtain an EPA registration, which is required before marketing the product.
Uses & Benefits
Every day, products containing antimicrobial ingredients help keep our homes, schools, offices, and other public places clean and hygienic. By helping to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes, antimicrobial chemicals can help keep people from getting sick.
Kitchen counters, office desks, bathroom sinks, and other high-traffic areas in homes and offices may accumulate germs that can make people sick. There is a difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. Cleaning products without antibacterial/antimicrobial ingredients will clean the surface, but they will typically not kill the germs on it.
Hospitals and Healthcare Settings
Antimicrobials in disinfectants and sterilizers kill bacteria and viruses to help keep patient, operating, and emergency rooms free of germs. Beyond these critical uses, hospitals and doctors’ offices also use antimicrobial products to help kill germs on floors, walls, and medical equipment. These are the everyday acts that help protect human health and help prevent the spread of infections that would otherwise pose real dangers to patients, doctors, and nurses.
Antimicrobial use protects industrial processes, water treatment systems, food processing facilities, and other critical operations. For example, cooling towers, which regulate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in apartment and office buildings or large industrial facilities, are especially prone to microbial growth. If unchecked and untreated, microbe-infested waters can disperse into the air. Bacteria can also cause slime buildup within the systems resulting in malfunctions. This is why cooling water systems must be treated with antimicrobials to help kill dangerous bacteria that could make people sick and cause costly damage.
These types of pesticides help slow the growth of human pathogenic microorganisms and are used in food processing plants, dairies, breweries, poultry houses and other animal feeding operations, hospitals, medical and dental clinics and offices, municipal drinking water and water treatment facilities, swimming pools, spas, schools, day-care centers, public access facilities, and homes.
Antimicrobial material preservatives are chemistries used in a variety of products to help prevent decay, deterioration and spoilage associated with microbial growth. They can help prevent treated wood from decaying, textiles from developing mold, odors and stains, and water-based products like paint from spoiling. Material preservatives are also used in a variety of household products, such as cosmetics, detergents and dishwashing liquids.
Antimicrobial products are regulated by various U.S. and state government agencies, depending on their intended use.
An antimicrobial is a substance used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces.
Antimicrobial products help kill or slow the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoans and fungi such as mold and mildew. Antimicrobial products may be in your home, workplace or school.
Both antibacterial and antimicrobial products can be an effective part of hygiene. Antibacterial products help to prevent or kill bacteria on surfaces. Antibacterial products may have labels that say they help disinfect, kill bacteria or sanitize. Antimicrobials (also called biocides and antimicrobial pesticides) are substances that help kill or slow the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and they are crucial in helping to prevent and stop the spread of harmful microbes. Antimicrobials also help to keep harmful pathogens out of our food and protect drinking water.
Antibiotics are antimicrobials, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics. Antimicrobial medicines used to help treat or prevent bacterial infections in humans or animals are antibiotics. And, while antibacterial products help prevent the development of bacteria, antimicrobials have a broader spectrum and can help kill and stop the spread of bacteria, fungi, and some viruses.
Sterilizers, disinfectants, and sanitizers are the most common types of antimicrobials. Sterilizers are used to help eliminate or destroy bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Disinfectants are used on nonliving surfaces and objects to kill bacteria and fungi. Sanitizers are used to reduce microorganisms from the environment.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms change or develop a resistance when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (for example, antibiotics and antifungals). Antimicrobial resistance may prevent medicines from being effective, which can cause infections to persist and increase the risk of spreading infections to others. Antimicrobial resistance can be decreased by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccinations.
Antimicrobial resistance can be decreased by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccinations.
As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are distinct differences between “cleaning,” “sanitizing” and “disinfecting.” When it comes to killing germs, think of these processes as Action 1 (low), Action 2 (medium) and Action 3 (high) action levels. Action 1 is to clean. “Cleaning” removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects, but it does not kill germs. Cleaning works by using soap and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. Action 2 is to sanitize. “Sanitizing” lowers the number of germs on a surface or object by reducing the germs to levels considered safe by public health standards or requirements. Action 3 is to disinfect. “Disinfecting” kills germs by using chemicals directly on surfaces and objects. This process does not necessarily clean a dirty surface or remove the germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning it, disinfection can further lower risk of spreading infection.
Products containing antimicrobials are used in home, office, and healthcare settings to control bacteria and help prevent people from getting sick. With respect to personal care products, there has been no credible, scientifically supported link between the use of antimicrobial soaps and the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
Antimicrobials, also known as biocides, help prevent the growth and spread of unwanted microbes. We rely on a class of antimicrobials known as disinfectants to help kill many disease-causing viruses (like the flu), bacteria (examples include E. coli and salmonella), fungi (such as mold) and other microbes before they can make you and your family sick. Disinfectants are used in hospitals, homes, schools, and countless other spaces to help kill germs, help treat drinking water, help ensure products last longer, and help keep manufacturing processes running safely.