Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Worried about germs? Get over it!

Amen to this New York Times article (just register already!) that argues against the current obsession with "antibacterial" soaps, wipes, sprays, and whatnot.
bacteriaThe makers of antibacterial products are fond of the word "germs." It is purposefully vague. Do they mean bacteria? Viruses? Both? Neither? Because the idea is simply to connote contamination. These products are as much about cooties as they are about viruses or bacteria.
This is appealing to many, of course, despite the fact that we personally are composed of (or home to) hundereds of thousands of benign or even helpful bacteria, which may outnumber our own cells. Beyond that, there are good reasons to think that using antimicrobials "just in case" is not without risks of its own -- not least that we can contribute to the troubling development of new resistant strains of bacteria (although there are much larger sources of this problem, why make it worse?). Antibiotic resistance will be one of the big problems of the 21st century, so we shouldn't trample into that area on the basis of a corporate-induced phobia.
According to Dr. Gerba's research, an active adult touches an average of 300 surfaces every 30 minutes. You cannot win at this. You will become obsessive-compulsive. Just wash your hands with soap and water a few times a day, and leave it at that.
(initial story via Follow Me Here)

No comments: