Thursday, January 22, 2009

As The World Germs

Here's a new take on how to fight the war on germs. With the arrival of cold and flu season, and with almost everyone you meet and great, there is chorus of coughing, dripping, hacking, and sniffling. And there's one cheap, easy, clinically proven way to avoid joining them. WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!

Science at it's best reveals that "washing your hands is the No. 1 thing you can do to prevent infection, says WebMD chief medical editor Michael Smith." Believer it or not the article still states that "soap and water help dislodge dirt, bacteria and viruses so they can go down the drain. " Here's the drill...Scrub vigorously with water and soap until lather appears, making sure to get between your fingers and fingernails. Use a nail brush if you have one. Briskly dry with a towel.

"Hand washing has a huge health impact," says Anna Bowen, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Water is not the most important part, it's "the friction and duration. You really need to scrub vigorously for about 20 seconds." Do it often and you'll stay a lot healthier 24% less like to get a respiratory illness and 45% to 50% less likely to get a stomach bug, the World Health Organization says.

After your hands are clean do you with paper towels or hot air blowers?

Doug Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., says numerous papers show that the friction created by using paper towels is actually a key part of the cleaning process. The friction "removes the bacteria, whereas blow dryers tend to disperse them in the air," he says.

A study by the Mayo Clinic in 2000 found that four potential drying methods paper towel, cloth roller towel, warm-forced-air dryer and "spontaneous room air evaporation" were all about equal in removing bacteria. But some research has found bacteria colonizing in the machines, though the findings are flatly denied by the hand-dryer industry. If you ever used one of these, your hand will dry for sure.

Now your hands are clean and dry, how do we get out with picking up MORE GERMS?? There's one thing a blower can't do. It can't be used to open a bathroom door that has been opened by dozens of people who didn't wash their hands. Says WebMD's Smith: "The paper towel is a very good friend."

To read the article in it's entirety, click here.
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