Medical X-ray of the human intestine

The detergents in commercial dishwashers often contain alcohol ethoxylate. This substance damages the intestinal epithelium, which can cause chronic diseases.

According to researchers from the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research, who work with organoids, the residue from substances washed on the dishes after cleaning in professional dishwashers can damage the natural protective layer in the intestine and contribute to the development of serious diseases.

Commercial dishwashers are a convenient way to quickly clean and dry plates, glasses, and cutlery in a variety of settings, such as restaurants, schools, and neighborhoods. However, a recent study by researchers at the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), a related institute University of Zurich He noted that these tools come with risks. The study confirmed that a substance in commercial rinsing agents has a toxic effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Chemical residue on clean plates

A typical cycle in a commercial dishwasher involves running hot water and soap at high pressure for 60 seconds. After that, there is a second 60 second wash and dry cycle where water and detergent are applied. “What is particularly alarming is the lack of an additional wash cycle to remove residual detergent in many items,” said Sezmi Akdis, UZH professor of experimental allergy and immunology and director of SIAF, who led the study. “This means that potentially toxic substances are left on the plates, which are then dried in place.” The next time the food is consumed, this dry chemical residue can easily enter the gastrointestinal tract.

This prompted the research team under Acdis to investigate the effects of commercial-grade detergents and rinse agents on the intestinal epithelial barrier – the layer of cells that lines the intestinal tract and controls what enters the body. A deficiency in this barrier has been linked to conditions such as food allergies, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, obesity, liver cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorders, chronic depression, and the like.[{” attribute=””>Alzheimer’s disease.

Similar protective layers are also present on the skin and in the lungs. As numerous studies have shown, many additives and chemicals that we encounter in everyday life can damage these layers. “We assume that defective epithelial barriers play a role in triggering the onset of two billion chronic illnesses,” says Akdis. This connection is explained by the epithelial barrier hypothesis, which Akdis has helped develop during his more than 20 years of research in this field.

Toxic substances in rinse agents

The researchers used a newly developed technology for their study – human intestinal organoids and intestinal cells on microchips. The tissue forms a three-dimensional clump of cells that is very similar to the intestinal epithelium in humans. The team used various biomolecular methods to analyze the effect that commercial detergents and rinse aids have on these cells. They diluted these substances to reflect the amounts that would be present on dry dishes (1:10,000 to 1:40,000).

The result was that high doses of rinse agents killed the intestinal epithelial cells and lower doses made it more permeable. Researchers also observed the activation of several genes and cell signaling proteins that could trigger inflammatory responses. A more detailed analysis showed that one component of the rinse agent – alcohol ethoxylates – was responsible for this reaction.

According to Akdis, these findings have significant implications for public health. “The effect that we found could mark the beginning of the destruction of the gut’s epithelial layer and trigger the onset of many chronic diseases,” he says. Akdis calls for an immediate response: “It is important to inform the public about this risk since alcohol ethoxylates seem to be commonly used in commercial dishwashers.”

Reference: “Gut epithelial barrier damage caused by dishwasher detergents and rinse aids” by Ismail Ogulur, Yagiz Pat, Tamer Aydin, Duygu Yazici, Beate Rückert, Yaqi Peng, Juno Kim, Urszula Radzikowska, Patrick Westermann, Milena Sokolowska, Raja Dhir, Mubeccel Akdis, Kari Nadeau and Cezmi A. Akdis, 1 December 2022, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2022.10.020

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