Stop sterilizing your dust—Antimicrobial chemical tied to antibiotic resistance genes in dust | 12/11/2018 | Staff
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Most people have heard about antibiotic-resistant germs. But how about antibiotic-resistant dust?

A new Northwestern University study has found that an antimicrobial chemical called triclosan is abundant in dust—and linked to changes in its genetic makeup. The result is dust with organisms that could cause an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Wisdom - Everything - Dust - Case - Things

"There is this conventional wisdom that says everything that's in dust is dead, but that's not actually the case. There are things living in there," said Northwestern's Erica Hartmann, who led the study. "Dust is the final resting place of everything that's been circulating in the air, so it can give us information about air quality."

The study was published today (Dec. 11) in the journal mSystems. Hartmann is an assistant professor of environmental engineering in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. This work was done in partnership with the Biology and the Build Environmental Center at the University of Oregon.

Hartmann - Study - Dust - Samples - Facilities

Hartmann's study compared dust samples collected from 42 athletic facilities in the Pacific Northwest region. (Hartmann selected athletics facilities because people tend to make intimate contact with the floor, mats and equipment and use antimicrobial wipes to cleanse these areas before and after exercising.) Her team looked at the bacteria present in dust, specifically examining the bacteria's genes.

In dust with higher concentrations of triclosan, the researchers found higher abundances of genetic markers indicating antibiotic resistance. "Those genes do not code for resistance to triclosan," Hartmann clarified. "They code for resistance to medically relevant antibiotic drugs."

Manufacturers - Triclosan

Up until 2017, manufacturers commonly added triclosan to...
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