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Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

Posted by stitches216 z8-9 Houston (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 26, 02 at 17:51

I am pretty sure this topic is unmentioned so far. If you use bathwater containing residue from antibacterial soap, will the same antibacterial action do more harm than good to beneficial soil bacteria?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

I'm not an expert but I have to believe that the antibacterial properties of the soap would be so diluted as to not be a threat to the beneficial soil bacteria. After all, there are many antibacterial agents in soil already. Many of the -mycin family of antibiotics were originally isolated from soil organisms.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

  • Posted by HollyK Zone 6B, PA (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 27, 02 at 14:15

I've heard that, too. I've even heard that there isn't enough anti-bacterial "stuff" in the soap to actually make it beneficial to wash your hands with it. Not enough stuff in it, and we don't leave it on our hands long enough!


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

The typical soil microbes scoff at the so-called antibacterial ingredients in soap.

BTW - they are usually too weak to do any more for you than plain soap, so save your money.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

Those of you with eczema, try not using antibacterial soap for a month or two, bet it clears up.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

All antibacterial soap does is breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Wash your hands with plain soap and water for 20 seconds and you won't have a problem. I even have iguanas that I handle often and don't use antibacterial soap, and I've never contracted salmonella or any other dread disease.

BTW, epidemiologists hate grey water because it can spread bacteria into the groundwater that may not be able to handle it.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

You actually need to wash for 15 minutes, and then rinse for about five to get your hands and forearms sterile. Anti-bact soaps are a rip off.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

Thanks to everyone who has posted! My intuition leans me toward agreeing with Rich, lazygardens and Barb. Caution or alarm on AB soap vs. soil is probably a waste.

Meghane makes a comment that intrigues me, and I have already asked her about it privately. But since I am here, what I am wondering about now concerns use of graywater, the percolation of it into groundwater, and the possible spread of disease from that percolation.

Forget soil bacteria for now. Is it better overall for the environment to sterilize graywater before "re-using" it? And, is it unwise to use unsterilized graywater on food plants? Again, intuition tells me that the "ideal" answer to the first question is yes, while a "good" answer to the 2nd question is a more emphatic yes.

What do all y'all think?


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

  • Posted by iann z8/9 England (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 31, 02 at 4:01

Meghane makes a valuable point. Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics and incorrect use by patients has caused drug-resistant bacteria. The same thing could be happening with antibacterial soap, although this has only been shown in laboratory conditions so far. Worth thinking about the next time you hear of someone getting sick with one of those superbugs.

Since the soap isn't particularly effective at killing bacteria on your hands I doubt it is going to cause the soil bacteria any trouble after being diluted in several gallons of water.

--ian

Here is a link that might be useful: AMA concerned about soap


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

Stitches -
To get to the groundwater, any bacteria in the bathwater used in irrigation would have to make it past an incredibly hostile environment created by the soil's microorganisms. That first 6 inches is a killer enviromnent.

Groundwater pollution by human pathogens usually happens when outhouses are used - effectively dumping pathogens at the same level as the groundwater, and below the level of the soil bacteria.

Biofilters are very effective at removing pathogens because the earth-living organisms use the pathogens as food.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

  • Posted by Byron 4a/5b NH (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 31, 02 at 23:53

Dumping grey water on the surface is illeagal in most area's

Some antibacterial soaps contained a 1st cousin to 2,4-D
a herbicide.

Anti-bacterial soaps used for aphid controls make plants very sick, or it kills them.


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

Based on what evidence. I have never had such a problem, and I am pretty indiscriminate about such things.

If your theory does not agree with the data, it is wrong
-Richard Feynman


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

I especially appreciate ianns, lazygardens and Byrons additional points. Not to be an Ol Perfesser, but I am still hearing two opposing takes on truth in this thread.

I can accept that AB soap residue may be too weak to threaten most soil bacteria. Bugs that live constantly in the soil outdoors are probably tougher than most bugs that live temporarily on our mostly indoors-dwelling bodies. That makes sense to me mostly.

But, if use of antibacterial soap risks the evolution of superbugs, then there seems to be at least a possibility that eventually, graywater will carry bugs that can survive outdoors maybe, even, bugs that compete with beneficial soil bacteria.

I dont mean to ruin anyones appetite for brunch: A few years ago I toured an 1800s gold mine in South Dakota. Over 100 feet vertically above the shaft, miners used an outhouse. I was astounded and alarmed to see that outhouse residues were percolating THROUGH ROCK into the shaft, with obvious discoloration and growth of something, where the residues were oozing and dripping. I dont recall a smell.

Add to that, our recent discoveries of extremophiles microorganisms that can live in extreme environments including for example, boiling water and I get the impression that we are the eventual certain losers of any fight against bacteria.

So for now, my practices are going to include (1) shopping for soap without insistence on antibacterial performance, and (2) use of any unboiled graywater only in areas where I do not plan to grow vegetables nearby, say, within 10 feet. Happy risk-taking, all!


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RE: Antibacterial soap in graywater vs. soil microorganisms

stiches, I don't know of any bacteria that can be absorbed by plants and then passed on through their fruit or foliage. And if you are so concerned about bacteria I'm sure you wash your vegetables, so splashing would not be a concern either.


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