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Human Experimentation by Industry: The Case of "Enzyme" Detergents

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The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.

Ann Intern Med. 1971;75(6):964-965. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-75-6-964
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Two recent reports in Science are concerned with the toxicity of the "enzyme" additives used in a number of household detergent preparations (1, 2). These so-called "enzymes" are crude extracts derived from cultures of Bacillus subtilis; their exact composition is not defined, but clearly they contain many materials other than enzymes, and their toxicity and allergenicity persist after treatments that destroy enzymatic activity. One of the papers, by Professor René Dubos at Rockefeller University, reported that the enzyme additives were capable of causing both hemolysis and hemagglutination of sheep erythrocytes: in addition, several preparations had antibacterial activity against staphylococci, enterococci,


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