Popularity of germ fighter raises concern

2:11pm, November 15, 2002

Deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpastes, soaps, cutting boards, baby toys, high chairs, and carpeting. Even sweatsocks, underwear, and hunting clothes. On her visits to the local Wal-Mart, Maura J. Meade of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., found examples of those products and others that incorporate the bacteria-killing agent triclosan. "It's all over the place," she says.

That pervasiveness may carry a price, Meade and two other investigators warned at this week's American Society for Microbiology meeting in Los Angeles. Each reported studies on triclosan-resistant microbes and expressed concern that the antiseptic's increasing popularity will encourage the evolution of bacteria impervious to drugs. For the moment, however, that worry remains theoretical, the scientists acknowledge.

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