Hand Sanitizers and Wusses

Why have we become a nation of germophobes and wimps? I hadn’t used the term since middle school, but over the last year working in the ER, the word “wussy” has come to mind over and over again. I’ve actually been inspired to write a book (in early stages) entitled “The Wussification of America.” The “wussification” ranges from everyday whining about irrelevant minutia, pointing fingers for everything rather than just taking personal responsibility, requesting large doses of narcotics in the ER for a simple ankle sprain (ibuprofen does just fine for the vast majority of non-wusses), and to this whole “germophobe” movement.
When did people start opening doors with paper towels? Why does everyone carry little tubes of chemical sanitizer on their keychains and squirt it all over whenever they touch anything? Why is nearly every soap on the store shelves “anti-bacterial”?
This rant was inspired by an “Ideal Bite” Tip, a daily eco-friendly email tip by some green-gal bloggers. I generally agree with thier advice, but this one deserves a rant.
Here’s my addition to their discussion on the subject:
. . . there is almost no need for the germophobe craze that we have developed in our country. I am an ER doctor and as JS said, studies have shown that you kill 99.9% of worrisome bacteria with regular soap and H2O (not bad for the sewer if we use biodegradeable soap!).
The harsh, unsanitary truth is, we have bacteria all over us all of the time! It is a commensualistic relationship and “good bacteria” keep “bad bacteria” from causing problematic infections. You cannot and should not get all of the germs off of your skin, your door handles, your dishes, etc.
That is not to say that you can’t catch viruses or bacteria from contact, and hygiene is a good idea to prevent spread of disease, but in general all of the sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps are just more scented chemicals in more plastic bottles that we don’t need and very well might be pressuring bacteria towards resistance.
Get over the germophobia and concentrate your efforts on things that can actually harm you, like smoking, oil companies, and politicians controlled by corporations!

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2 Responses to “Hand Sanitizers and Wusses”

  1. […] demanding antibiotics from  your doctors.  Stop using antimicrobial  soaps and sanitizers (see this previous rant)- we evolved to live commensualistically with bacteria on our skin, you  cannot and should not […]

  2. […] environment that can potentially effect our health are simply not necessary. I have addressed the antibacterial soap and germiphobe movement in the past, and if you read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, the […]

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