New cloth kills germs and breaks down toxins

Researchers from the University of California Davis have developed a new self-cleaning fabric that instantly kills bacteria and breaks down pesticides and toxins when exposed to light.

Announced late last month and reported in Medgadget on October 11, the new cotton fabric incorporates a compound that can better bond to cotton fibers than other antimicrobial agents, making it difficult to wash off. Plus the researchers say the compound, known as 2-anthraquinone carboxylic acid, or 2-AQC, doesn't affect the properties of the cotton.

Although it's not clear when consumers can expect to see 2-AQC-infused clothing or textiles, the scientists suggest possible applications could be clothing for healthcare workers, farmers, and military personnel.

The world has seen a slew of antibacterial and antibiotic products on the market over the years -- soaps, socks, cutting boards, children's toys, toilet seats -- mostly made with agents triclosan and tributyletin. Antimicrobial silver ions have been used in everything from washing machines to deodorant to repel bacteria.

However, health and environmental concerns linger over whether or not the widespread use of antibacterial products is strengthening the resistance of superbugs such as MRSA.

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