STEPPING OUTSIDE THE BOX

WHEN IT COMES TO WASHING OUR HANDS EVERYBODY SAYS THEY DID, BUT WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT WE FIND OUT NOBODY DID. THE REASON WHY MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WASH THEIR HANDS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT AWARE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF IT AND THE THREATS OF CROSS CONTAMINATION. AS MOST PEOPLE ARE STRANGE TO GERMS SOME OF THEM DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THEM BECAUSE THEY FEAR THEM. WE DO NOT WANT TO FEAR GERMS BUT TO KNOW ABOUT THEM TO BE SAFE WHEREVER WE ARE.

MOST PEOPLE PREPARE MEALS WITHOUT HAVING WASHED THEIR HANDS PREVIOUSLY. THE MAIN REASON BEHIND NOT THINKING OF WASHING THEIR HANDS IS IGNORING THE HOLISTIC APPROACH WE ALL HAVE TO HAVE  ABOUT THIS KEY TOPIC.

LOUIS PASTEUR (1822-1895), WELL-KNOWN FRENCH MICROBIOLOGIST, “WAS ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF THE GERM THEORY OF DISEASE, WHICH STATES THAT SOME DISEASES ARE CAUSED BY MICROORGANISMS” (GOODNET.GATEWAY TO DOING GOOD).

WE ARE SURROUNDED BY BACTERIA EVERYWHERE. “A STUDY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO IN BOULDER FOUND THAT PUBLIC RESTROOMS WERE A BREEDING GROUND FOR A WHOLE RANGE OF BACTERIA. THE SCIENTISTS BROUGHT GENETIC SEQUENCING TOOLS TO SIX MEN´S RESTROOMS AND SIX WOMEN´S RESTROOMS. AFTER EXAMINING THE DOORS, WATER FAUCETS, HANDLES, SOAP DISPENSERS, TOILETS AND FLOORS THEY FOUND 19 DIFFERENT STRAINS OF BACTERIA PRESENT” (OH, THE PLACES GERMS GO! THE BASELINE OF HEALTH FOUNDATION).

RESTROOMS SINKS ARE ONE OF THE EIGHT GERMIEST PLACES IN US MALLS. “DR. CHARLES GERBA, AN ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, SAMPLED BULK SOAP FROM 541 DISPENSERS IN 5 CITIES ACROSS THE US” (CLEANLINK.SOAP DISPENSERS:PREVENTING CROSS CONTAMINATION). “THEY FOUND THAT ONE IN FOUR CONTAINED UNSAFE LEVELS OF BACTERIA. THE STUDY SHOWED THESE SOAP DISPENSERS WERE REFILLED BY WORKERS WITH DIRTY HANDS AND SO THE SOAP ITSELF MIGHT HARBOR GERMS”. DR. CHARLES GERBA FOUND “FOOD, E. COLI, URINE, MUCUS, FECES AND BLOOD ON ESCALATOR HANDRAILS”. “ATM KEYPADS, TOY STORES, FITTING ROOMS, GADGET SHOPS, AND MAKE-UP SAMPLES” ARE OTHER FIVE OF THE GERMIEST PLACES IN US MALLS (CNN. THE 8 GERMIEST PLACES IN THE MALL).

FOOD COURT TABLES ARE ALSO AMONG THE GERMIEST PLACES IN US MALLS. “EVEN IF YOU SEE THE TABLE BEING WIPED DOWN, THAT DOESN´T MEAN IT´S CLEAN”, SAYS PANELIST ELAINE LARSON, PH.D., A PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AT THE MAILMAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: “THE RAGS THEMSELVES CAN ACTUALLY SPREAD HARMFUL BACTERIA SUCH AS E. COLI IF THEY ARE NOT CHANGED AND WASHED REGULARLY”. “PROTECT YOURSELF: CONSIDER STASHING A PACK OF HARD SURFACE DISINFECTING WIPES IN YOUR PURSE SO YOU CAN SWIPE THE TABLE BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN. “LOOK FOR ONES THAT CONTAIN ALCOHOL OR ANOTHER DISINFECTING AGENT IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE YOU´RE KILLING GERMS, NOT JUST WIPING AWAY GRIME”, PHILIP TIERNO,PH.D., SAID” (CNN.THE 8 GERMIEST PLACES IN THE MALL).

ASIDE FROM THOSE 8 GERMIEST PLACES IN ANY US MALL, WE VERY OFTEN COME INTO CONTACT WITH OTHER SURFACES RIDDLED WITH BACTERIA. HERE IS OUR EVERYDAY LIST OF SURFACES COVERED WITH COLD GERMS AND OTHER TYPES OF GERMS: DOORKNOBS, SHOPPING CART HANDLES, HOTEL AND PUBLIC TELEPHONES, REMOTE CONTROLS, OUR OWN CELL PHONES, COMPUTER MOUSES, LIGHT SWITCHES, CONDIMENT CONTAINERS, AIRPLANE TRAY TABLES, AIRPLANE “SEAT CONTROLS AND OTHER SURFACES IN AND AROUND OUR AIRPLANE SEAT” (TEN SURPRISING PLACES FOR GERMS –HEALTHY TRAVEL- EVERYDAY HEALTH), JUST TO MENTION A FEW. OTHER TIMES GERMS ENTER OUR BODY WHEN WE KISS SOMEONE WHO CARRIES COLD, FLU OR COUGH GERMS, AND ALSO WHEN WE TOUCH OR USE SOMETHING AFTER SOMEBODY WITH A COLD OR ANY OTHER AILMENT HAD TOUCHED IT OR USED IT BEFORE US.

REGARDING SHOPPING CART HANDLES THE FOLLOWING QUOTE IS WORTH CITING: “THE HANDLES OF SHOPPING CARTS ARE NOTORIOUSLY CONTAMINATED WITH GERMS. MANY GROCERY STORES NOW OFFER DISINFECTING WIPES FOR YOU TO USE TO CLEAN OFF THE HANDLE OF YOUR GROCERY CART OR USE YOUR OWN WIPES” BY KRISHA MCCOY, MS, MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY PAT F. BASS III, MD, MPH ( 10 SURPRISING PLACES FOR GERMS-HEALTHY TRAVEL-EVERYDAY HEALTH ).

9 NEWS NOW WANTED TO FIND OUT HOW GERM-CONTAMINATED METRO HANDRAILS ARE AND SO THEY DID A SURVEY COLLECTING SWAB SAMPLES. THEY “BROUGHT THE SAMPLES TO THE SCIENTISTS AT EMSL ANALYTICAL IN CINNAMINSON, NEW JERSEY. THE ESCALATOR HANDRAIL HAD THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF BACTERIA WITH 3,210,000 THOUSAND CFUS OR COLONY FORMING UNITS PER SWAB. “THE ESCALATOR SEEMS LIKE A HIGH-TRAFFIC AREA, SO ANYTHING THAT´S NOT BEING CLEANED OR DISINFECTED WITHIN THE PERIOD OF TIME,  CAN BE TRANSFERRED FROM A PERSON TO THE AREA, WHICH IN THIS CASE IS THE ESCALATOR,” SAID NEKOUEI. “WE USE A DISINFECTANT CLEANER ON ALL THE TOUCH SURFACES, FARE CARD MACHINES, THROUGH THE FARE GATES, ALL THOSE TYPICAL PLACES YOU WOULD EXPECT,” SAID JOAN LELACHEUR, THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF METRO´S ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. SHE SAYS ALL SURFACES ARE WIPED DOWN ON A DAILY BASIS. EVERY MONTH, TRAINS ARE THOROUGHLY CLEANED, INCLUDING THE CARPETS. ANY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OR   ANY PUBLIC SPOT IS ONLY AS CLEAN AS WHOEVER WAS THE LAST PERSON TO TOUCH IT,” SHE SAID. METRO ASKS THAT YOU TRY TO KEEP YOUR GERMS TO YOURSELF COVERING YOUR COUGHS AND SNEEZES AND USING HAND SANITIZER” (METRO ESCALATOR HANDRAILS CARRY MOST BACTERIA. WUSA9.COM). 

BACTERIA ALSO THRIVE ON PAPER MONEY. THIS IS WHY FOOD BUSINESSES, MEAT, FISH AND BREAD ONES AMONG OTHERS, SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST TWO WORKERS IN THE BUSINESS: ONE HANDLING MONEY, THAT IS, DEALING WITH GERMS THE WHOLE TIME, AND ANOTHER PERSON HANDLING FOOD WITH WASHED HANDS TO AVOID TRANSFERING MICROBES FROM MONEY TO FOOD. ANY PERSON, WHO TOUCHES PAPER MONEY AND ALSO HANDLES FRESH FOOD LIKE MEAT, BREAD AND OTHERS THAT ARE NOT PLASTIC-SEALED, WILL SPREAD GERMS FROM PAPER MONEY AND  HIS DIRTY HANDS TO THE FRESH FOOD, AND SO THIS FRESH FOOD WILL GO BAD SOONER THAN EXPECTED.

THE MORE WE KNOW ABOUT GERMS THE BETTER PREPARED WE WILL BE TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD WITHOUT PICKING UP THESE MICROBIAL INVADERS. “WHEN TRAVELLING, YOUR CAR CAN HAVE VERY SUSPECT AREAS SUCH AS THE SEATS, THE CONTROLS, THE DOOR HANDLE, THE TRUNK AND WORST OF ALL THE CARPET TO THE TRUNK WITH JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN BEING DUMPED THERE. BY THE SAME TOKEN, A TAXI, A TRAIN RIDE OR CATCHING THE BUS WILL HAVE THOSE SAME HEALTH HAZARDS. THE GAS STATION WHEN YOU GO TO FILL YOUR TANK HAS PUMP HANDLES CONSTANTLY BEING USED. HOW OFTEN DO YOU THINK THEY GET CLEANED UNLESS PERHAPS FROM THE RAIN? AS FOR AIRPLANE BATHROOMS, THESE CAN BE A REAL NIGHTMARE ON A LONG HAUL FLIGHT WITH ALMOST NON STOP USE AND MINIMAL CLEANING. YOU WILL HAVE TO DECIDE HOW YOU CAN MINIMIZE THE RISKS. I SUGGEST WASHING YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU COME OUT AND THEN USING A HAND SANITIZER AS SOON AS YOU ARE OUT OF THE BATHROOM AS A BACK-UP! IF YOU ARE STAYING AT A HOTEL ON YOUR TRAVELS, TAKE OFF THE BEDSPREAD AND STORE IT AWAY. THIS IS NOT LIKELY TO BE WASHED SO OFTEN. WHEN YOU TURN LIGHT SWITCHES IN PUBLIC PLACES ON AND OFF, USE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND WHILE THE ONES IN YOUR HOTEL SHOULD BE WIPED BEFORE YOU START TO USE THEM. SO YOU HAVE SETTLED INTO YOUR HOTEL ROOM – EVERYTHING IS NOW CLEAN AND THEN IT IS OFF TO A RESTAURANT TO EAT AND ANOTHER MINEFIELD OF GERMS! TABLES ARE USUALLY KEPT WELL DISINFECTED BY STAFF BETWEEN GUESTS, BUT BAR COUNTERS AND OUTDOOR TABLES MIGHT NOT BE SO WELL LOOKED AFTER AND COULD POSSIBLY DO WITH A WIPE DOWN. THEN BE WARY OF ALL THE CONDIMENT CONTAINERS ON THE TABLE – SALT, PEPPER, MUSTARD, KETCHUP AND MORE. THESE COULD BE HANDLED BY MANY PATRONS ON A DAILY BASIS WITHOUT BEING CLEANED. AND THE FINAL SUGGESTION IS THE MENU ITSELF. THINK ABOUT HOW MANY HANDLE THE MENU AND APART FROM KEEPING YOUR OWN HANDS OFF IT, DON´T LET IT CONTAMINATE THE CROCKERY, GLASSES AND SILVERWARE ALREADY LAID OUT ON THE TABLE EITHER!” (THE 16 MOST LIKELY PLACES WHERE GERMS CAN LURK WHEN YOU ARE AWAY FROM HOME).

IN ADDITION TO ALL THIS, HIGH CONCENTRATIONS OF BACTERIA CAN BE FOUND IN WASHING MACHINES. “DR. CHARLES GERBA´S LATEST PROJECT IS THE LAUNDRY. HIS TEAM VISITED RANDOMLY 60 FOUR-PERSON FAMILY HOMES IN TUCSON, AND ONE-FIFTH OF THE MACHINES CONTAINED E. COLI, WHILE A QUARTER WERE CONTAMINATED WITH FECAL MATTER. THE LAUNDRY, DR. GERBA CONTENDS, IS BECOMING LESS CLEAN. FEWER AMERICANS WASH CLOTHES IN HOT WATER, AND ONLY 5 PERCENT USE BLEACH, HE SAID. WASH CYCLES ARE ONLY 20 MINUTES, WHILE THE AVERAGE DRYING TIME IS ONLY 28 MINUTES. DR. GERBA FOUND THAT SOME SALMONELLA AND HEPATITIS A SURVIVE THROUGH LAUNDRY — INCLUDING THE DRY CYCLE — AND REMAIN ON CLOTHES” (FECAL MATTER – DR. DOORMAT).

FOOTWEAR IS ONE MORE MICROBIAL LOCATION TO ADD TO OUR LIST. THE MOMENT WE GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE OUR SOLES START PICKING UP ALL SORTS OF BACTERIA. DR. CHARLES GERBA WAS COMMISSIONED “TO LOOK AT WHAT WE PICK UP ON OUR SHOES AND TRACK INTO OUR HOMES. IN THIS INITIAL TEST, DR. GERBA SWABBED FOR BACTERIA ON 26 SHOES WORN BY TEST SUBJECTS FOR THREE MONTHS OR MORE. HE CULTURED THE SAMPLES AND IDENTIFIED NINE MICROBIAL SPECIES THAT CAN CAUSE INTESTINAL, URINARY, EYE, LUNG, BLOOD AND WOUND INFECTIONS. COLIFORM BACTERIA – ORIGINATING IN FECAL MATTER – WERE FOUND ON THE OUTSIDE OF ALL BUT ONE OF THE SHOES, AND THE SAMPLES AVERAGED 421,000 BACTERIAL UNITS PER SQUARE CENTIMETER SAMPLED. (EACH UNIT IS ENOUGH BACTERIA TO REPRODUCE AND GROW A NEW COLONY.) SEVEN OF THE SHOES HAD PICKED UP ESCHERICHIA COLI (E. COLI) BACTERIA. AS THE CRUD BUILDS UP ON OUR SHOES, DR. GERBA SAID, WE ADD FOOD AND OTHER DEBRIS THAT BACTERIA CAN FEED ON, AND “OUR SHOES BECOME A BACTERIA CAFETERIA”. BACK HOME WE TRAIL THE STUFF ACROSS OUR FLOORS AND CARPETS, WHERE THE MICROBES FIND A NEW RESIDENCE”. AS FOR FARM DISEASES “ANIMAL – HEALTH EXPERTS FOR YEARS HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE ROLE OF FOOTWEAR IN TRANSPORTING ANIMAL DISEASES FROM FARM TO FARM,” DR. GERBA SAID” (THE “EWWW!” ON YOUR SHOE – COLLECTIONS. )

PHILIP TIERNO, PH. D., DIRECTOR OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER SAYS “ANYWHERE PEOPLE GATHER IS FILLED WITH BACTERIA AND VIRUSES, AND A CROWDED SHOPPING MALL IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE” (CNN.THE 8 GERMIEST PLACES IN THE MALL).

THE ART OF WASHING OUR HANDS NEEDS SOME REVIEW. I OFTEN HEAR MOTHERS TELL THEIR CHILDREN AFTER GOING OUT OF A PUBLIC RESTROOM THE FOLLOWING: “COME ON, WASH YOUR HANDS”. WELL, PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ UP ON GERM LITERATURE EXPECTS MOTHERS TO KNOW HOW TO DO IT. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE. THEY JUST TURN THE FAUCET ON, PUT THEIR HANDS UNDER THE WATER AND THAT IS IT. LET US MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WATER IS NOT THAT POWERFUL. WATER CANNOT MAKE DO BY ITSELF. IT NEEDS SOAP. AS FOR RESTROOMS SOAPS (FORTUNATELY, LESS AND LESS COMMON NOWADAYS) ONE THING MUST BE SAID. THEY ARE NOT HYGIENIC. THE REASON WHY THIS IS SO IT IS BECAUSE WE CAN FIND THERE LOTS OF THINGS, LIKE HAIR, DIRT AND OTHER UNPLEASANT ONES. COME ON, WE ARE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. SOAPS WOULD ONLY DO GOOD IF USED AS PERSONAL CLEANLINESS, THAT IS, IF THEY WERE ONLY USED BY ONE SINGLE PERSON. WHERE WE DO NOT FIND NEITHER HAIR, DIRT NOR SURPRISING THINGS IS IN LIQUID SOAP. THIS SHOULD BE IN ALL RESTAURANTS, KITCHENS, BARS AND PUBLIC PLACES RESTROOMS, SO THAT EVERYONE COULD HAVE ACCESS TO HYGIENE.

PROPER HAND WASHING IN A PUBLIC RESTROOM NEEDS TO BE CLEARED UP SO THAT WE CAN START DOING IT CORRECTLY: FIRST, WE SPEND 15-20 SECONDS TO WASH THEM. WE USE PLENTY OF SOAP AND RUB OUR HANDS THOROUGHLY, CLEANING BETWEEN OUR FINGERS, UNDER OUR FINGERNAILS AND BACK OF HANDS. THEN WE RINSE WITH PLENTY OF WATER. AFTER THAT, WE DRY OUR HANDS ON DISPOSABLE PAPER TOWEL AND THROW IT IN THE TRASH. FINALLY, WE USE ANOTHER PAPER TOWEL TO TURN THE FAUCET OFF AND TO OPEN THE DOOR, SO  THAT OUR HANDS REMAIN CLEAN.

LET US REMEMBER GERMS ARE NOT POLITE AND THEIR ROUTE IS AS FOLLOWS: FIRST OUR HANDS, THEN NOSE, MOUTH, EYES, BODY AND SOMETIMES OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM. ONCE WE TOUCH OUR EYES, NOSE OR MOUTH WITH OUR DIRTY HANDS, GERMS ENTER OUR BODY AND FROM HERE OUR DIRTY HANDS, IF NOT WASHED WITH WATER AND SOAP, WILL CONTAMINATE EVERYTHING WE TOUCH ELSEWHERE. BACTERIA LIFE ON HARD SURFACES IS ABOUT FOUR HOURS. THEREFORE, FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HEALTH, LET US WASH OUR HANDS WITH WATER AND SOAP FREQUENTLY. IF THAT WERE NOT POSSIBLE WE WOULD RUB OUR HANDS AND FINGERS WITH A COUPLE OF WIPES.

MOST WIDESPREAD UNHEALTHY HABITS ARE THESE ONES:

DIRTY RAGS AND SPONGES IN THE KITCHEN. RAGS AND SPONGES SHOULD BE EITHER WASHED IN THE WASHING MACHINE OR RENEWED VERY OFTEN. “THE FILTHIEST CULPRIT IN OUR HOMES IS THE KITCHEN SPONGE OR CLOTH. ACCORDING TO DR. GERBA, THERE ARE ABOUT 10 MILLION BACTERIA PER SQUARE INCH ON A SPONGE, AND A MILLION  ON A DISHCLOTH”. “ALWAYS THE DIRTIEST THING BY FAR IS THE KITCHEN SPONGE,” SAYS JOHN OXFORD, PROFESSOR OF VIROLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON AND CHAIR OF THE HYGIENE COUNCIL”. ABOUT 4 CLEAN RAGS EVERYDAY SHOULD BE RENEWED SO THAT WE CAN DRY OUR HANDS ON CLEAN RAGS AFTER WASHING THEM . SOME OF THESE CLEAN RAGS SHOULD BE USED TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS AND TABLES (IS THE TOILET SEAT REALLY THE DIRTIEST PLACE IN THE HOME? – BBC NEWS MAGAZINE).

CONTAMINATED CUTTING BOARDS AND KNIVES. VERY OFTEN PEOPLE CHOP MEAT OR FISH, AND RIGHT AFTER IT, WITHOUT CLEANING NEITHER THE CUTTING BOARD NOR THE KNIFE, THEY START SLICING VEGETABLES. THESE VEGETABLES WILL BE CONTAMINATED UNLESS WE WASH THE BOARD AND  KNIFE  WITH WATER AND SOAP.

PUTTING FOOD WHICH FELL IN THE SINK BACK IN THE PLATE. “IF YOU ARE MAKING A SALAD, AND THE CARROT FELL IN THE SINK, YOU´D RINSE IT OFF AND PUT IT BACK IN,” DR. CHARLES GERBA SAID. “WELL, THERE ARE MORE FECAL BACTERIA IN THE SINK THAN IN YOUR TOILET. IF YOUR CARROT FELL IN THE TOILET BOWL, WOULD YOU PUT IT BACK IN THE SALAD? (TOUCHY SUBJECT – CBS NEWS).

SOME PEOPLE DROP THEIR PURSES AND CLOTHES ON THE RESTROOM FLOOR, AND  IN DOING SO THEY ARE LETTING AN AMAZING AMOUNT OF BACTERIA INVADE THEM.

-SOME PEOPLE ENTER RESTROOMS THINKING THERE IS TOILET PAPER IN ALL RESTROOMS. UNFORTUNATELY, THAT IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE. THAT IS WHY EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A KLEENEX PACKET ON THEM, TO CLEAN THEMSELVES PROPERLY AND FREE THEMSELVES AND WASHING MACHINES FROM ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNT OF BACTERIA. RESEARCH ON WASHING MACHINES SHOWS THAT FECES SURVIVE IN THESE MACHINES AND IN THE “WASHED” CLOTHES DESPITE THE WASHING LIQUID THEY PUT INSIDE THEM, BASICALLY BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WERE NOT CLEAN ENOUGH TO HAVE USED TOILET PAPER TO CLEAN THEMSELVES AND TO HAVE AVOIDED FILLING THE WASHING MACHINE WITH CLOTHES RIDDLED WITH FECES. PLEASE, DO NOT DO IT AGAIN. IF SO YOU WOULD BE PUTTING  IN JEOPARDY YOURS AND OTHER PEOPLE´S HEALTH. HERE LIES THE ROOTS FOR SO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF CURRENT AILMENTS. LET US PROTECT OURSELVES CLEANING OUR WASHING MACHINE, RUNNING AN EMPTY WASH USING SODIUM BICARBONATE IN THE SMALL COMPARTMENT WHERE WE USUALLY PLACE THE WASHING LIQUID, SO THAT WE CAN GET RID OF FECES ONCE AND FOR ALL. REMEMBER THIS, TAKE A KLEENEX PACKET WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. IT WILL SAVE YOU A LOT TIME AND MONEY, AND WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IT WILL PROTECT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM. 

READING A BOOK, THE NEWSPAPER OR USING OUR I-PHONE WHILE SITTING DOWN ON THE TOILET SEAT. WE REALLY DO NOT WANT THIS. WHY? WELL, BECAUSE THEN WE WOULD HAVE MORE WORK TO DO LATER ON TRYING UNSUCCESSFULLY TO GET RID OF ALL THE BACTERIA TRANSFERRED TO THE BOOK, THE NEWSPAPER OR THE I-PHONE WE WERE USING.

ENTERING A PUBLIC RESTROOM WITH UNWASHED HANDS. GIVEN THE FACT GERMS LURK ALMOST EVERYWHERE AND THAT WHEN WE GO OUT WE ARE EXPOSED TO THEM IN MANY WAYS, SPECIALLY WHEN WE TOUCH PUBLIC RESTROOMS HANDLES, THE BEST THING TO DO IS TO WASH OUR HANDS WITH WATER AND SOAP AND DRY OUR HANDS ON DISPOSABLE PAPER TOWEL BEFORE ENTERING A TOILET. ONCE OUR HANDS ARE DRY WE SHOULD USE THAT SAME PAPER TOWEL TO OPEN THE TOILET DOOR AND TO CLOSE IT. WHEN WE ARE “FINISHED” WE SHOULD TAKE A  PIECE OF TOILET PAPER TO PRESS THE FLUSH BOTTOM AND TO OPEN THE TOILET DOORS TO AVOID MICROBES. 

WALKING BAREFOOT IN PUBLIC PLACES. WE SHOULD TRY TO AVOID WALKING BAREFOOT, EVEN IN OUR OWN HOUSE. WHY? MAINLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO PLACE A HUNDRED PER CENT CLEAN, SO BETTER BE SAFE THAN SORRY.

USING DIRTY REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS. “WHAT´S MORE, ABOUT HALF OF REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS HAVE FECAL BACTERIA IN THEM. “SOME PEOPLE HAVE MORE FECAL BACTERIA IN THEIR GROCERY BAG THAN IN THEIR UNDERWEAR, BECAUSE THEY AT LEAST WASH THAT”.” SAID DR. GERBA (IS THE TOILET SEAT REALLY THE DIRTIEST PLACE IN THE HOME? – BBC NEWS MAGAZINE).

TRYING TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN FLOOR WITH ONLY WATER. WATER BY ITSELF CANNOT DISINFECT FLOORS. WATER TOGETHER WITH A DISINFECTANT WILL DO THE JOB.

CLEANERS AT MALLS AND ELSEWHERE USING THEIR DIRTY BROOMS AND DIRTY MOPS TO CLEAN BENCHES. WE SAW IT AND WE TOLD THE PERSON NOT TO DO IT. SHE STOPPED DOING IT, BUT SHE TOOK A DIRTY RAG AND CONTAMINATED THE BENCH. ALL CLEANERS SHOULD TAKE COURSES ON  HYGIENE GOOD PRACTICES AND COURSES ON GERMS, SO THAT THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING INSTEAD.

-AND FINALLY, WE SHOULD WASH OUR HANDS AFTER TOUCHING ANIMALS.

 ALL THINGS CONSIDERED THESE 9 LAWS BELOW SHOULD BE ENACTED:

1- HAND WASHING AT WORK. SIGNS SAYING “EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS” SHOULD BE AROUND DIFFERENT PLACES SO THAT WORKERS HAVE IT ALWAYS IN MIND, SPECIALLY IN RESTAURANTS KITCHENS.

2- IN ANY FRESH FOOD BUSINESS (MEAT, FISH, VEGETABLES, FRUIT AND BREAD) 2 PEOPLE AT LEAST SHOULD BE DOING THE JOB: ONE SERVING PEOPLE AND ANOTHER ONE CHECKING OUT, TO AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATION.

3- A PILE OF ABOUT 40 CLEAN RAGS SHOULD BE STORED IN EACH RESTAURANT KITCHEN OR BAR, SO THAT NO WAITER OR WORKER CAN EXCUSE HIMSELF SAYING THERE WERE NO CLEAN RAGS LEFT TO CLEAN THE TABLES OR DRY THEIR HANDS.

4- ABOUT 4 DISINFECTANT SPRAYS SHOULD BE STORED IN ANY RESTAURANT KITCHEN OR BAR, SO THAT THE DIFFERENT WORKERS HAVE ACCESS TO SOME DISINFECTANT SPRAYS, WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT FOR THEM, SINCE IT IS SOMETHING BASIC IN EVERYONE´S HYGIENE, PARTICULARLY IN OUR CUSTOMERS´.

5- BAR WORKERS SHOULD WIPE THE TABLES AND COUNTERS WITH CLEANCLOTHS AND DISINFECTANT. WHEN THEY USE DIRTY ONES THEY WILL SPREAD BACTERIA EVERYWHERE.

6- CLEANERS HAVE TO DISINFECT METRO HANDRAILS, ESCALATOR HANDRAILS, TICKET MACHINES AND THE POLES PEOPLE HOLD ON TO WHEN TRAINS MOVE AT LEAST THREE TIMES A WEEK.

7- LIQUID SOAP DISPENSERS SHOULD BE FOUND IN ALL PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

8- THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF REFILLING SOAP DISPENSERS SHOULD HAVE HIS HANDS WASHED WITH WATER AND SOAP, TO PREVENT GERM SPREADING INSIDE  SOAP DISPENSERS.

9- EACH PUBLIC TOILET SHOULD BE BIG ENOUGH NOT TO STRUGGLE THROUGH IN ORDER NOT TO TOUCH THE TOILET BOWL WITH ONE OF OUR LEGS ONCE THIS ONE IS IN THERE, AND BATTLE AGAIN WITH THE REST OF OUR BODY NOT TO TOUCH NEITHER THE DOOR NOR THE SIDE WALLS, SINCE WE KNOW IT IS A FACT THOUSANDS OF PATHOGENS ARE ON THESE SURFACES. 99% OF TOILETS ARE SIMPLY TOO SMALL AND CONSEQUENTLY UNCOMFORTABLE. EACH PUBLIC TOILET SHOULD HAVE A SURFACE AREA OF AT LEAST ONE SQUARE METER.

HERE ARE TWO IDEAS TO TAKE OUT TWO NEW PATENTS. THE FIRST ONE HAS TO DO WITH A CHECKING POINT DEVICE TO SEE WHETHER THE RESTAURANTS COOKS HAVE THEIR HANDS CLEAN OR NOT. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A CONTAINER FULL OF WATER WITH A PARTICULAR CHEMICAL WHICH DETECTS GERMS AND IF SO WATER TURNS RED, FOR EXAMPLE. THE COOKS WOULD PUT THEIR HANDS IN THE WATER TO CHECK WHETHER THEY REALLY WASHED THEIR HANDS OR NOT. THE SECOND INVENTION WOULD BE A DOORMAT WHICH WOULD CLEAN OUR SHOES, WOULD FREE OUR SHOES OF ALL GERMS, JUST BY SCRUBING OUR SHOES AGAINST IT, AS WE COME IN. THESE DISINFECTANT DOORMATS SHOULD BE OUTSIDE OUR HOUSE, OUTSIDE HOSPITALS, MALLS, SHOPS, ETC. MONEY SPENT ON THE RESEARCH OF THE DISINFECTANT MATERIAL COMPONENTS OF THIS DISINFECTANT DOORMAT WOULD BE WORTHY OF IT.

ANOTHER GOOD IDEA WOULD BE DESIGNING T-SHIRTS, DRESSES, PANTS, TABLECLOTHES, CLOTHS AND TOWELS SAYING NOT “ON” OR “OFF”, BUT WITH THE FOLLOWING SLOGANS: “HAND WASHING IS AWSOME”, “HAND WASHING IS THE BOMB”, “HAND WASHING COMES FIRST” AND “ISN´T HAND WASHING SOMETHING?”. I WOULD USE WARM QUALITY COTTON TEXTILES AND LOVELY, ELEGANT COLOURS. BESIDES HAVING THEM ALL SOLD OUT THEY WOULD DO LOTS OF GOOD MAKING EVERYONE AWARE OF THE RELEVANCE OF HAND WASHING.

LET US PROMOTE THE VIRTUES OF HYGIENE STANDARDS, AND PUT HAND WASHING INTO PRACTICE TO PREVENT INFECTING OURSELVES WITH OTHERS´ COLD GERMS AND PASSING ON OUR COLD BACTERIA, IF ANY. WE CAN ALL PREVENT VIRUS AND BACTERIA SPREADS AND ALSO INFECTIOUS DISEASES. LET US NOT PREPARE MEALS WITH UNWASHED HANDS. LET US ADOPT HYGIENE GOOD PRACTICES, CARRYING A PACKET OF WIPES IN CASE WE DO NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WASH OUR HANDS WHEREVER WE ARE. LET US BE STICKLERS FOR WASHING OUR HANDS AS MUCH AS WE CAN. WE WILL DEFINITELY BE BETTER OFF TRYING TO BE STICKLERS THAN IGNORING THE WHOLE SITUATION. WE HAVE THE MEANS TO DO IT. MAKING THE EFFORT TO WASH OUR HANDS IS REALLY TAKING A STAND FOR LIFE. WE CAN ALL GAIN TASTE FOR IT ONCE WE SEE THE BENEFITS OF IT ON OTHERS AND ON US. LET US STEP OUTSIDE THE BOX WASHING OUR HANDS AND WE WILL SEE EXCITING THINGS IN THE PIPELINE!

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Julia Martinez

Julia Martínez was born in The Basque Country, Spain in 1965. She went to Las Carmelitas School in Santurtzi, where she completed her elementary and secondary education, except her senior year. She decided to go to the United States as an exchange student for her senior year. She lived with an American family in California for that school year. After coming back from the US she started her undergraduate studies at Deusto University. By this time she had already lived in Santurtzi for seventeen years. It was 1983 when she and her family moved to Getxo. At Deusto University she studied English Linguistics for five years. She was twenty three years old when she got her undergraduate degree. She spent about three months during three different summers in England. During two of those summers she was an exchange student, and another summer she was working as an au pair, living with an English family. She also spent about two months during two different summers in Dublin. She was an exchange student living with an Irish family for a month, and another summer she was living in a student residence. In 1988 she was granted a scholarship to do her graduate studies at Indiana University, in the U.S..She completed a double master on English and Spanish Applied Linguistics in 1990. During that year and a half that she was studying over there she was also working as an Associate Professor giving Spanish classes at Indiana University. After working on the double master, She decided to go back to Spain and work as an English teacher at an English school in Galdakao for a year. At the same time that she was working, she was studying in order to sit a competitive exam. She went to Madrid to take it, and got the job she wanted. She became a civil servant, and she started working as an English teacher at a high school in 1991. By the year 2004 she had already been teaching for thirteen years in four different high schools, giving lessons to secondary students. In 2004 she decided to quit teaching and start painting as a self-made painter. She has got thirty six original oil paintings on canvas, and all of them share bright, lively, warm colors which invite you to smile and chill out. You see them all together and you see a real celebration of life, of what life should be, of happiness and love. Apart from painting, she is very keen on music and photography. About music, it must be said that she was very much into it during some years in the past, specially when she was taking Classical and electric guitar lessons and writing her own songs. She has got four demos with songs sung, both in English and Spanish. She performed as a singer in some places in the year 2000 after recording all her original songs. She is a hard-working person and a very good listener. She is one of those really positive people that finds solutions to almost anything you can think of. She enjoys creative work, either in painting, photography, dancing, singing, writing or cooking. She also enjoys herself with those little things in life like going out for a stroll in the country, listening to all kinds of music, good company, a good book, helping people in need, taking a nap, or just watching a funny movie. At present she is working as a freelance writer. Let us add that she is really interested in the protection of animals.

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