Almost everywhere you look, you can find microorganisms, or microbes, living organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye. While some microbes are good and important to many ecosystems, others can cause serious illnesses or serious material compromise.
Biocides help prevent disease
When doctors began to deeply study diseases more than 150 years ago, they discovered that microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi were responsible for many diseases and infections. Microorganisms were making people sick. In order to stop this, scientists and doctors not only developed antibiotic medicines for disease prevention, but also harnessed the power of chemistry and developed antimicrobial disinfectants, sterilizers, and sanitizers that helped stop or eliminate the spread of disease and infections.
Today, biocides are used in homes and public places, such as medical facilities and schools, to kill germs that could make people sick. They are also used to treat drinking water, and helped in the virtual elimination of typhoid fever, cholera, and other waterborne diseases.
It’s now safe to drink water from our faucets because antimicrobials treat and protect our water supply by eliminating harmful microbes and pathogens such as E. coli and Legionella.
But it isn’t just the day-to-day benefits of antimicrobials that help keep us safe. When floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters occur, water supplies are contaminated. As a result, health departments, health authorities, and public water systems use antimicrobials to disinfect the water so it’s safe to drink and use for food preparation.
Biocides Help Sustain our Goods and Resources
Communities strive to reduce, reuse, and recycle precious resources. Biocides help in this effort by preventing products from spoiling or breaking down so they last longer. Certain products, if not protected, will decay by mold and mildew. Other materials or products are susceptible to deterioration or spoilage from certain microbes if they are not protected. Protection is a role of biocides. Biocides are used to preserve products and extend their shelf lives. By helping products and materials last longer, biocides play an important role in promoting sustainability reducing waste.
Antimicrobials can be used as preservatives to protect wood from decay caused by pests, mold, and mildew. Such protections help extend the life of the wood therefore extending the life of homes, buildings, bridges and decks to name a few. When the wood supply lasts longer, communities can reduce the demand on forests, which means fewer trees are cut down and more oxygen is released into the atmosphere.
Water can be recycled with the use of antimicrobials. Reusing our water means that the public can lessen their reliance on freshwater systems. When it comes to municipal and industrial wastewater, antimicrobials are used to treat water so it can be reused safely for many purposes such as:
- Irrigating crops and landscapes
- Recycling water used for cooling and steam generation in industrial facilities
- Recharging groundwater
- Flushing toilets