Is chronic detergent ingestion harmful to the gut?
Synthetic detergents are used in large quantities as household and industrial cleaners. Because of the common practice of leaving dishes washed in detergent solutions to dry without rinsing these compounds are ingested. We have calculated that an adult takes in about 1 mg/kg detergent a day and babies can be administered between seven and 10 mg/kg a day. Rats were fed a dose of 100 mg/kg a day in a pilot experiment and gross abnormalities were found in the gastrointestinal tract, the most striking being subtotal villous atrophy of the small bowel mucosa and glandular atrophy in the colon. These changes were not reversible 12 weeks after cessation of detergent administration.