Man's physical universe

xanabras

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770 MAN'S PHYSICAL WELFARE

Many Oxidizing Agents Are Excellent Antiseptics.

Bacteria are able to survive in environments which prevent their

growth and which would kill other cells because the cell walls of many

bacteria are highly impenetrable and because of the ability of some

bacteria to change into highly resistant spores. These spores may

remain in the dormant state for long periods of time and recover their

power of growth when conditions become favorable again. Substances

which merely prevent the growth of bacteria are called antiseptics, or

better, bacteriostatics; while those substances which kill bacteria

outright are called germicides or disinfectants.

Many antiseptics are also germicides when used in relatively strong

concentrations.

Ozone, O3, is an excellent germicide that is often used to purify air

or water. It must not be present in the air which we breathe in concentrations

which are high enough to kill bacteria because ozone is highly

irritant and toxic to the body.

Hydrogen peroxide is a feeble germicide, but it is often used to wash

fetid wounds and ulcers because it foams in contact with pus and thus

mechanically cleanses the wound or ulcer. Magnesium and zinc peroxides

and sodium perborate are sometimes used for the treatment of skin

diseases because they react with water to produce hydrogen peroxide.

Potassium permanganate is a strong oxidizing agent whose solution

is sometimes used to disinfect the skin and to treat certain skin diseases

such as tinea.

The halogens, chlorine, bromine, and iodine, and a number of their

compounds are excellent antiseptics and germicides. A solution of

sodium hypochlorite, buffered with sodium phosphate or a mixture of

sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, was very successfully

used in World War I to treat sepsis in wounds, remove dead tissue,

and promote healing. Chloramine T (also called chlorazene) and

Dichloramine T are excellent organic compounds that have an action

similar to that of sodium hypochlorite, except that they do not dissolve

necrotic tissues.

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SO.NaNCl

chloramine T

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SO2NCI2

dichloramine T

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