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Food and Chemical Toxicology
Vol. 116, 2018, Pages: 3-9

Development and use of microbial-based cleaning products (MBCPs): Current issues and knowledge gaps

George Arvanitakis, Robin Temmerman, Armin Spök

Health Canada, 269 Laurier Ave. W, Ottawa ON K1A 0K9, Canada.


Cleaning products containing microbes as active ingredients are becoming increasingly prevalent as an alternative to chemical-based cleaning products. These microbial-based cleaning products (MBCPs) are being used in domestic and commercial settings (i.e., households and businesses) and institutional settings (e.g., hospitals, schools, etc.), in a variety of cleaning activities (hard surface cleaning, odour control, degreasing, septic tank treatments, etc.). They are typically described as “environmentally friendly” and “non-toxic”. Publicly available information sources (scientific literature, patent databases, commercial websites) were searched for information on microbial species contained in MBCPs, their mode of action, cleaning applications in which they are used, and their potential impacts on human health and the environment. Although information was found providing a broad indication of microbial genera/species used, information on specific species/strains and quantities produced and sold is generally lacking. This makes it difficult to conduct a meaningful examination of any risks to human health and the environment from the production and use of MBCPs and to determine how effective current policies and regulatory frameworks are in addressing these issues. These and other challenges were addressed at an international workshop in Ottawa, Canada in June 2013 by a number of stakeholders, including industry, government, academic and non-governmental organizations.

Keywords: Cleaning products, Microbial, Health risks, Ecolabel, Risk assessment.

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