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Stuff of Progress: Disinfectants

Stuff of Progress: Disinfectants

https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=2407

humanprogress.org

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Chemical disinfection is vital

Chemical disinfection is vital

Chemical disinfection has helped to improve life expectancy and considerably changed our collective standard of living.

It is inexpensive and always available, and is used ...

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Early chemical disinfection

Basic chemical disinfection was employed since at least 3,000 BC, using alcohol, elemental copper and Sulfur, salt, sodium carbonate, and mild organic acids.

Sulfur fumigat...

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Effective deployment

The first notable effective deployment of disinfectants came in 1675 when a Dutch scientist noticed through the glass of his microscope that strong vinegar killed microorganisms.

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Modern disinfectants

Modern disinfectants are made from many compounds, including alcohols, aldehydes, oxidizing agents, phenolics, inorganic compounds such as chlorine, some metals, various acids, etc.

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The disinfection of water

In 1908, the United States started a continuous application of water chlorination at the Boonton Reservoir in New Jersey. The technology spread first across the United States, and later across deve...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The worst enemy of the virus

The worst enemy of the virus

Even though a vaccine for the new virus is at least a year away, we all a way to fight the virus in our own homes: soap and water.
The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfac...

Washing our hands the right way

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect against the new virus. But it has to be done the right way.
You have to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. And make sure you cover all the important parts: palms, wrinkles, fingernails, between fingers, under rings, bandaids, or splints you may have on an injured finger.

Soap vs. hand sanitizer

Destroying the structure of viruses and other contaminations with soap and water is different than using disinfectants and sanitizers, which are designed to kill germs but not remove them from your skin.

Spreading and deactivation

The new virus spreads most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets that can be inhaled by nearby people or land on surf...

Sticking in the air /on surfaces

  • The new virus is thought to persist in the air for up to 3 hours and for 2 to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces.
  • The new virus has been detected in feces, suggesting the virus could be spread by people who don’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • There is no indication that it spreads through drinking water, swimming pools, or hot tubs.

Bleach and the outdoors

  • The disinfectant most commonly used outdoors is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). But it’s unclear whether bleach destroys viruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it's unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air.
  • UV light seems to destroy the new virus as well. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light.

Iron: the fourth most abundant element on earth

Iron: the fourth most abundant element on earth

Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and is found as an ore called Magnetite. Iron is crucial for creating steel, which is required for countries which are und...

The early history of iron exploitation

Iron has been collected, mined and processed into its metallic form since 1200 BCE. Large scale production only started in 1750, at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Steel, an alloy of Iron and Carbon is known for its purity and strength, and was patented by British inventor Sir Henry Bessemer in 1857. Steel helped humanity make stronger and larger tools, paving the way for industrialized progress.

Iron and the increased demand for wood

Scaling up of iron production in Great Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, led to a dramatic increase in the demand for wood. The creation of steel takes its toll on forests, with the requirement of charcoal, a residue of wood, to smelt iron and carbon.

Charcoal production, leading to demand for wood, has since then led to widespread deforestation with thousands of square kilometers of forests cut annually.

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