EARTH Magazine: Antibacterial clays could fight superbugs

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EARTH Magazine: Antibacterial clays could fight superbugs


Megan Sever (


Alexandria, Va. — Doctors and public health officials are concerned about the growing number of antibiotic-resistant superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, and Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, as well as more common, yet still dangerous, bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Now, doctors and public health officials may have a surprising ally in the fight against these bacteria: natural clays. According to a new study, clays with antibacterial properties found near Crater Lake in Oregon could eventually lead to new agents in the fight against these bacteria.

Scientists have long known that clays such as French green clays can treat some bacterial infections, including those caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, which causes skin ulcerations called Buruli ulcers that are common in Africa. The new research suggests that red, blue and white clays from the Crater Lake area have the potential to treat an even wider array of health issues.  

Read more about the research and the varying ways that clays neutralize bacteria in the January issue of EARTH magazine:   

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at The January issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories on how American geoscientists are helping Afghanistan develop sustainable water resources, new dates for when Neanderthals died out, and the discovery of old, sunken ships in San Francisco Bay, plus much, much more.


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The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 50 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

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