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Antimicrobial Chemical: Distinguishing Disinfectants from Sterilants (Essay Sample)


The sample is a microbiology essay that distinguishes disinfectants from sterilants. The essay describes the reasons why most antimicrobial chemical agents are disinfectants. It states that since antimicrobial chemical agents are used on living tissues, disinfectants are suitable because they selectively eliminate disease-causing pathogens without killing the host cells. Additionally, the essay discusses the characteristics of antimicrobial chemical agents that make them good disinfectants. The chemical agent should have high water solubility, stability, be harmless to human beings, and its action should be limited to the site of application.


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Most antimicrobial chemical agents are disinfectants rather than sterilants. Sterilization and disinfection are both decontamination processes used to control the growth of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, and protozoans. Disinfection involves reducing or eliminating harmful microorganisms from surfaces and inanimate objects while sterilization is the process of removing all microorganisms, including viruses, spores of microbes found in liquids and surfaces, and other acellular entities (Willey, Sherwood, & Woolverton, 2017). Unlike sterilizers, disinfectants do not eliminate all microorganisms and are therefore more practical to use in everyday life. Sterilization is an extreme form of decontamination that kills even the harmless microorganisms and renders them incapable of replicating.
Antimicrobial chemical agents are mostly disinfectants because they reduce the amount of microorganisms, particularly disease-causing pathogens. The antimicrobial chemical agents are also often used on living tissues, which requires the selective elimination of microorganisms so as not to affect the host cells (Willey, Sherwood, & Woolverton, 2017). Therefore, they do not kill everything, but only decrease the number of microbes. The amount and type of microbes eliminated depends on the type disinfectant used and the microorganisms being targeted. Moreover, the optimal use of a disinfectant requires the correct concentration, temperature range, and length of use.
There are several characteristics of an antimicrobial chemical agent that make it a good disinfectant. First, the chemical should be able to kill a broad range of microorga

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