Health and safety aspects

Chen, Z. et al. 2021. High concentration and high dose of disinfectants and antibiotics used during the COVID-19 pandemic threaten human health.

Article about the promoting effects of disinfectants and antibiotics on antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and even antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB)

Quotes from the article:

The scientific evidence indicate that the high concentration and high dose of disinfectants and antibiotics promote the evolution toward antimicrobial resistance through horizontal gene transformation and vertical gene transformation, which threaten human health.

  • Many environmental studies focus on the occurrence of disinfectants by-products (DBPs) and antibiotics residuals in diverse environments and their toxic effects on various organisms.
  • Most of the emerging DBPs were found to induce oxidative stress, DNA damage, and activate DNA repair system at environmental concentrations.
  • Chronic toxicological studies pointed that exposure to DBPs may induce genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, asthma, skin rashes, bladder, and colon cancer in humans.
  • Disinfectant by-products and antibiotic residues permanently existed in diverse environments, which can persistently promote bacterial evolution toward antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Bacteria, only carrying antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), can survive and persist in these contaminated environments.
  • Expansions in the diversity and abundance of ARGs were hence presented in water, soil and air, which may disturb the normal microflora.
  • Emergence of resistance amongst bacteria in the normal flora and distribution of resistant genes can contribute to an increased load of resistant, potentially pathogenic microorganisms and reduce the colonization resistance leading to overgrowth of exogenic pathogens.
  • New ARB, such as the COVID-19, could be a result of ARGs enrichment and microflora disturbance, and it hence increased and spread rapidly all over the world in recent years.
  • Human health studies reported that the ARGs and ARB were frequently detected in animal and human gut.
  • High concentration and high dose of disinfectants and antibiotics used during the COVID-19 pandemic, which entered into environments, are definitely accelerating the target selection of AMR in environments.
  • Further research have to pay more attention on the enrichment, bioaccumulation and biomagnification of disinfectants, antibiotics, ARGs and even ARB in human bodies.