Shampoo in the water supply triggers growth of deadly drug-resistant bugs

Fabric softeners, disinfectants, shampoos and other household products are spreading drug-resistant bacteria around Britain, scientists have warned. Detergents used in factories and mills are also increasing the odds that some medicines will no longer be able to combat dangerous diseases.

The warning has been made by Birmingham and Warwick university scientists, who say disinfectants and other products washed into sewers and rivers are triggering the growth of drug-resistant microbes. Soil samples from many areas have been found to contain high levels of bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes, the scientists have discovered – raising fears that these may have already been picked up by humans.

“Every year, the nation produces 1.5m tonnes of sewage sludge and most of that is spread on farmland,” said Dr William Gaze of Warwick University. That sludge contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria whose growth is triggered by chemicals in detergents, he explained. “In addition, we pump 11bn litres of water from houses and factories into our rivers and estuaries every day, and these are also spreading resistance.”

Article here.

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