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Friday, July 5, 2013

Disinfectant Chemistry Report Card #15 - Parachlorometaxylenol (PCMX) - Many formats, many uses, but at what cost?

 PCMX is an antimicrobial chemical compound used as a preservative to control bacteria, algae, and fungi in adhesives, emulsions, paints, cooling fluids, glue, cosmetics, hygiene products such as hair conditioners and deodorants, topical medications, urinary antiseptics and metal working fluids.  Liquid PCMX solutions are used for cleaning and disinfecting wounds, abrasions and abscesses while creams are used for cuts, scratches, insect bites, and burns. Powders are used to treat problems of the feet and skin inflammations.

PCMX is used in 0.5% to 4% in antiseptic formulations and has low level of antimicrobial activity. Its effectiveness is also very formulation dependant in terms of use along with other active agents.  Disruption of cell membrane potentials is the main mechanism by which PCMX prevents pathogenic activity. 

Resistance among pathogens to PCMX have been reported, with biofilm generating pathogens being the most resistant.  Bacteria sourced from industrial locations such as, P. stutzeri and A. johnsonii, have been shown to be more resistant to PCMX family of disinfectants.  Many virus types have been found to be resistant to pure forms of PCMX in low concentrations; however when formulated with other active ingredients can overcome the resistance.

Acute oral toxicity of pure PCMX has been reported for mice with LD50 of 1g/kg of body weight; however it imposes very low to no toxicity in low dilutions. It is a mild skin irritant and may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.  Various forms of dermatitis have been reported when using PCMX on skin surfaces.

Long term biodegradation may produce hazardous by-products; however the degradation products are as hazardous as PCMX itself.  Biodegradation in activated sludge is slow, with only 40% of a 10 ppm solution taking 7 days to decompose.  Bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms’ body is moderate, however still posing adverse effects.

Here’s how we would score PCMX on the key decision making criteria:

• Speed of Disinfection – B

o Contact times will be dependent upon concentration and formulation
o Hand Sanitizing formulations generally carry a  30 second sanitizing claims

• Spectrum of Kill – B to C

o Efficacy against bacteria, viruses and fungi has been shown but is dependent upon formulation and concentration

• Cleaning Effectiveness – C

o Cleaning efficacy of PCMX comes from the addition of surfactants to formulations

• Safety Profile – B

o PCMX not significantly toxic to humans and other mammals, is practically non-toxic to birds.
o  It is a mild skin irritant and may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals

• Environmental Profile – D

o Bioaccumulative in the environment and reacts to form more toxic by-products
o Moderately toxic to freshwater invertebrates and highly toxic to fish

• Cost Effectiveness – B to C

o Products are available from a number of suppliers

**For more in-depth scientific information about Alcohol and other disinfectant chemistries, stay tuned to www.infectionpreventionresource.com.

Bugging Off!


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