Study Supported by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Finds Antimicrobial Paints Have a Blind Spot
Antimicrobial paints offer the promise of extra protection against bacteria. But Northwestern University researchers caution that these paints might be doing more harm than good.
In a new study, the researchers tested bacteria commonly found inside homes on samples of drywall coated with antimicrobial, synthetic latex paints. Within 24 hours, all bacteria died except for Bacillus timonensis, a spore-forming bacterium. Most bacilli commonly inhabit soil, but many are found in indoor environments.
“If you attack bacteria with antimicrobial chemicals, then they will mount a defense,” said Northwestern Engineering’s Erica Hartmann, who led the study. “Bacillus is typically innocuous, but by attacking it, you might prompt it to develop more antibiotic resistance.”
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, so most die on indoor surfaces, which are dry and cold, anyway. This makes Hartmann question the need to use antimicrobial paints, which may only be causing bacteria to become stronger...