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Antiseptics and Joseph Lister.

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ANTISEPTICS and JOSEPH LISTER Antiseptics are physical or chemical agents that prevent putrefaction, infection, and analogous changes in food and living tissue by destroying or arresting the development of micro-organisms. Since ancient times food has been preserved by the use of antiseptic agents such as heat in cooking; nitre, salt, and vinegar in corning and pickling; and wood smoke (containing creosote, chemically similar to carbolic acid) in the smoking of meats. In modern times the principal antiseptic agents used in the preservation of food are heat and cold in such processes as canning, pasteurisation, and refrigeration. ...read more.


Many other antiseptics have come into use, among which the most important are mercury dichloride, iodine, boric acid, alcohol, the hypochlorites, mercurochrome, and Merthiolate. Chlorine is used in the sterilisation of water, especially in public water systems and swimming pools. Joseph Lister, (1827-1912), was a British surgeon, whose discovery of antiseptics in 1865 greatly reduced the number of deaths due to operating-room infections. Born in Upton, Essex, and educated at the universities of London and Edinburgh, Lister began to study the coagulation of blood and the inflammation that followed injuries and surgical wounds. ...read more.


Believing infection to be caused by airborne dust particles, Lister sprayed the air with carbolic acid, a chemical that was then being used to treat foul-smelling sewers. In 1865 he came upon the germ theory of the French bacteriologist Louis Pasteur, whose experiments revealed that fermentation and putrefaction were caused by micro-organisms brought in contact with organic material. By applying carbolic acid to instruments and directly to wounds and dressings, Lister reduced surgical mortality to 15 percent by 1869. Lister's discoveries in antisepsis met initial resistance, but by the 1880s they had become widely accepted. In 1897 he was made baron by Queen Victoria, who had been his patient. ...read more.

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