This article at health.com on where significant concentrations of bacteria can be found starts out on an almost reasonable footing, talking about kitchen sinks (they recommend bleaching them twice a week) and airplane bathrooms. The recommend, by the way, putting the lid down before flushing (a recommendation I’ve heard before*, and cheerfully ignored that time as well). But it doesn’t take long before the article goes a little off the deep end… It’s not that it didn’t start out a little… exaggerated: the comment about the toilet plumes was a little overstated.

The volcanic flush of the commode tends to spew particles into the air, coating the floor and walls with, well, whatever had been swirling around in there.

Now, there is a notable spraying effect, but ‘volcanic flush’ seems overstated to me, at the least. It takes till the fourth entry (public drinking fountains at schools) to start getting a little crazy with the recommendations:

Send your child to school with plenty of her own beverages. Teach her to wash her hands, especially before and after lunch, going to the bathroom, or using the computer. Send hand sanitizer to every school teacher and give extras to your child. And when it’s your turn to squeeze into that little desk for Open House? Swab it off with an antibacterial wipe…

Still, this isn’t too far beyond the pale. I mean, there’s something a little odd about sending hand sanitizer to all of your children’s school teachers (are there any teachers reading? would you, like I would, take this to be a sign of insanity and promptly throw the stuff away?). Also mentioned as a valuable use for disinfecting cleaning agents are: the handles of shopping carts at supermarkets (or just buy your own handle cover to bring with you); ATM keys, as well as paper money in general (always clean your hands with a sanitizing agent after touching money); and anything you might touch in a hotel room (not just bedspreads, for example, but also door handles and light switches).

There are plenty of other useful hints for keeping safe that should also be mentioned, briefly, such as sunny days being safer for taking children to playgrounds (ultraviolet radiation kills bacteria), cleaning keyboards and office spaces daily with disinfecting wipes, and making sure to disinfect your bathtub at least once a week (and after anyone with some sort of infection uses it) and then dry it carefully with a clean towel.  (A recent study found that 26 percent of bathtubs have staphylococcus bacteria living in them.  The article fails to mention what percent of human beings have staphylococcus bacteria living all over them.)

Honestly, aside from more or less just listing these recommendations I’m not sure what more to say. They are self-mocking. Still, I just know that there’s a sizable number of people out there taking this sort of thing seriously and that’s kind of unnerving.

*As an interesting side note, the Professor Gerba mentioned in this article apparently loves his work enough that his son’s middle name is “Escherichia”.

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