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Disinfectants are used as preservatives to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and fungi in pharmaceutical products, laboratory sera and reagents, cosmetic products, and contact lenses. Multi-use vials of medication that may be reentered through a rubber dia-phragm, and eye and nose drops, require preservatives. Preservatives should not be irritating or toxic to tissues to which they will be applied, they must be effective in preventing growth of microorganisms likely to contaminate them, and they must have sufficient solubility and stability to remain active.
Commonly used preservative agents include organic acids such as benzoic acid and salts, the parabens, (alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid), sorbic acid and salts, phenolic compounds,quaternary ammonium compounds, alcohols, and mercurials such as thimerosal in 0.001–0.004% concentration.
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