Vis-A-Virus

Dirty Little Secrets
About Hand Washing

For at least a century now, it’s common knowledge that one of the essential conditions for good health is to wash your hands often. That’s still true in the age of sanitizers and nothing like the virus du jour to highlight that. It’s also when most people realize that six seconds under running water doesn’t clean anything.
The personal care industry makes billions every year but we still prioritize appearance, voice tone, timing, and a series of other silly parameters to gauge whether the person in front of us is friend or foe. And yet they could kill us with a handshake. No wonder the doctor who became obsessed with cleanliness lost his mind.
What’s curious is that a dweller of any modern metropolis does value showering daily or almost, and depending on education, brushing their teeth a least twice a day. Somehow the initial step, though, and despite the usual comforts of contemporary life, like indoor plumbing, taking the time to wash up is treated as a formality.

It’s hard to understand how come such a crucial habit fell through the cracks of culture. Or that we even survived to this age. The evidence clean hands do save lives is around for so long, just like soap, and in the big scheme of things, time spent washing up is negligible compared to other human activities.
And yet, here we are, with the coronavirus wreaking havoc those very activities on a global scale. The benefits of this simple habit to improve global health cannot be overestimated and neither can the growth of the soap and cosmetics industry during the same period. Human awareness though went the other way.
FIGHTING GERMS WITH ALCOHOL
Hand sanitizers are an ultra-modern invention likely devised to quell germophobic anxieties and up to a few months ago, could be found at every counter of every food and retail places in America. It’s not so available anymore and for a while hoarders and mad-greedy merchants thought their price should be many times higher.
Amazon and other delivery companies – which by the way are making a killing – have stepped in to curb price gouging, but the initial widespread adoption of antibacterial soaps prompted a number of alarming studies about their long-term effects. That’s why the FDA banned Triclosan, despite industry efforts against it.
The current virus outbreak may potentially produce yet another unforeseen economic impact: to boost the moribund corn industry. A perennial recipient of government aid, corn depends on two factors for its commercial viability, subsidies and the fact corn syrup is now added to arguably 90% of American food. Thus the demand for corn-made alcohol is expected to spike.
AREN’T YOU FORGETTING SOMETHING?
But dirty habits die hard. Consider the study by late 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature John Trinkaus of CUNY, published at the Annals of Improbable Research. It recorded public use of a hand-sanitizing station in the lobby of a teaching hospital, with heavy traffic of medical professionals, patients, and their relatives.
Of a total of 500 observations made, only three out of 108 healthcare practitioners stopped and used the station, which runs (more)
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Wash Up

Dirty Little Secrets
of Hand Sanitizers

For at least a century now, it’s common knowledge that one of the essential conditions for good health is to wash your hands often.
Which doesn’t mean that personal hygiene should stop there. But ever since it became evident that clean hands do save lives, to keep them that way is not just mandatory for living in society, but also very easy to do.
Also for a century, running water and soap for at least a minute or two would do the job. The benefits of this simple habit to improve global health cannot be underestimated. But neither can the correspondent growth of the soap and cosmetics industry during the same period.
So much so that in the past 20 years, while it exponentially Continue reading

Loo and Be LoL

For the Poor, a Better Toilet;
But for the Plump, a Bigger One

One of most desperate challenges facing impoverished communities around the world (read it, the majority of the population), along with hunger and need for shelter, is the need for clean sanitation.
According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people have no access to even basic sanitary facilities. That includes clean water, which is virtually off limits to 1.1 billion bodies in the world today.
Whereas the modern toilet system is an effective way for keeping people healthy in industrialized societies, its complexity and infrastructure requirements are simply not practical for most of the developing world.
Ironically, for such societies there’s also a new, almost opposite challenge to tackle: obesity. In the U.S., for example, about one-third of adults are overweight, according to the CDC, Continue reading

Extra Gulp

Counter to Anti-Obesity Efforts,
New Cup Tops Stomach Capacity

As the damaging effects of overeating and excessive calorie intake become a well established scientific fact, it’s always reassuring to see corporations big and small getting behind healthy nationwide initiatives to address the problem.
Not Starbucks, though. Once identified with Seattle’s grunge culture, alongside Nirvana and those infamous plaid flannel Continue reading

Their Very Breast

Brazilian Indians Share Milk
With Their Babies & Animals

For centuries, babies have been breast fed by their mammal mothers as a normal part of their upbringing, and that includes both humans and animals. It’s considered the best food an infant can have and most scientific studies have confirmed the fact.
Except when they don’t, as was the case of the online version of the British Medical Journal, which questioned last week the benefits of the practice on a recent study. Or when, openly or not, the baby food industry Continue reading

Serious Business

A Global Toilet Day
to Raise Awareness

It takes just a quick glance at the toll poor sanitation causes to public health to realize how lucky we all are. What with flushing water, plenty of soft tissue and as much privacy as we think it’s our right to demand, it’s hard to imagine that we still need an annual day like Friday to call attention to such a vital issue. That’s exactly what the World Toilet Organization is trying to accomplish.
According to estimates, in the developing world, diarrheal diseases spread via feces kill more children than HIV/AIDS. In great part of African, Asian and Latin American countries, running water is a luxury, and people use nearby open air sewages is their toilets. And it’s useful to be reminded that, while we as we flush once more, not too far away Haiti is facing a cholera epidemic that can be traced directly to poor sanitation.
Along with access to clean water, proper nutrition and education, the right to have high standards of hygiene and improved sanitation should be inherent to human beings, if we expect to Continue reading