Government Study Says You’re Washing Your Hands the Wrong Way

…Which Is Gross and You Should Fix It

Hey, did you wash your hands recently? Well, you probably did it wrong. CNN pointed out a recent government study found that 97 percent of the time, people fail to properly wash their hands—a problem that can lead to all sorts of unnecessary illnesses being spread.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, people are falling short of meeting the standards for acceptable handwashing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bar to make sure your hands are sufficiently clean requires you to wash and scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds.

The study looked at 363 people in six kitchen test facilities located in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina and in the town of Smithfield, North Carolina. What it found was nearly every person working in the kitchens failed to reach the handwashing standard set by the CDC, which is probably not reassuring if you’re currently out to eat at a restaurant in Tar Heel State.

Read on Gizmodo

GlitterBug handwashing products

By AJ Dellinger / gizmodo.com

Moments when you should wash your hands

Certain events, actions or circumstances can make handwashing more important. For example, after being in public places, or handling often-touched objects like handrails and doorknobs, before preparing food, before eating and after using the rest-room. When possible it is best to avoid touching moist areas of your body such as eyes, nose and mouth unless you first wash your hands. Further, it is advisable to wash your hands after touching those areas. Germs most often travel by climbing aboard hands until they find a good opportunity to jump off into food we consume or directly into the portals of our bodies (mouth, nose and eyes etc.). Before helping these bugs find the greener pastures and making us sick send them down the drain.

cdc.gov/handwashing

GlitterBug handwashing products

Prevention always starts with good hand hygiene

Searching for the cause of an E Coli outbreak can send investigators in many different directions. This is a reminder that good hand hygiene practices and proper food preparation are of utmost importance. E Coli can be found in contaminated soil or water but it can also be spread through infected people. Germs that make us sick are everywhere and while we cannot always control where or how our food is grown we can control how we prepare it and make sure our hands are clean when doing so. Check out these links to the latest news on the Romain lettuce E Coli outbreak and the CDC which both reference person-to-person contact and the importance of hand washing.

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Ebola Again

Africa is experiencing a sad case of deja vu as Ebola rears its ugly head again. A recent outbreak in Congo has health professionals on high alert. Make sure your team is prepared should the need arise for PPE protocols. This teaching set from Brevis includes GlitterBug Powder and the UVA LED SpotShooter8 Lamp. Apply a small amount of GlitterBug Powder to the PPE before doffing and then use the lamp to illuminate contamination.

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Germs Don’t Take Summer Vacations

Phew! We made it through the worst of the cold and flu season! With summer around the corner though, there is more waiting for us than just sunshine and snow cones. Playgrounds, water parks and amusement parks are full of fun, but also full of germs. Make sure to use good hand hygiene to make the most of your summertime adventures without taking home the wrong kind of souvenir. Check out Brevis.com for fun and creative reminders you can share with family and friends about the importance of keeping their hands clean this summer. Read more about summertime germ precautions.

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Are you a man or a microbe?

We may think of ourselves as just human, but we’re really a mass of microorganisms housed in a human shell.

The human body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only about one in ten of those cells is actually…well…human. The rest are bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that populate every nook and cranny of our human body. In fact, for every human gene in our bodies there are 360 microbial genes. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome, and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists like Michael Blaser of New York University (Director of the Human Microbiome Project) have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.

The microbiome is the human equivalent of an environmental ecosystem. Although the bacteria together weigh a mere three pounds, their composition determines a lot about how the body functions—and sometimes malfunctions. And just like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits. Namely, us.

Lita Proctor of the National Institutes of Health, who is also leading the Human Microbiome Project, says, “The human we see in the mirror is made up of more microbes than human. They belong in and on our bodies; they help support our health; they help digest our food and provide many kinds of protective mechanisms for human health.”

So these microbes aren’t just along for the ride, they’re there for a reason. We have a symbiotic relationship with them—we give them a place to live and they keep us alive.

In his new book, “Missing Microbes,” Dr. Blaser links the declining variety within the microbiome to our increased susceptibility to serious, often chronic conditions, from allergies and celiac disease to Type 1 diabetes and obesity. He and others primarily blame antibiotics for the connection. “We inherit every one of our genes, but we leave the womb without a single microbe,” says Blaser. “As we pass through our mother’s birth canal, we begin to attract entire colonies of bacteria. By the time a child can crawl, an enormous, unseen cloud of microorganisms—a hundred trillion or more, has blanketed him. They are bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and fungi (including a variety of yeasts), and they come at us from all directions: other people, food, furniture, clothing, cars, buildings, trees, pets, even the air we breathe.”

It seems taking too many antibiotics—not to mention our obsession with cleanliness—may disrupt the normal microbiome. The average American child is given nearly three courses of antibiotics in the first two years of life, and eight more during the next eight years. Even a short course of antibiotics like the widely prescribed Z-pack (azithromycin, taken for five days), can result in long-term shifts in the body’s microbial environment. It’s overkill—literally. Imprudent antibiotic use has resulted in widespread resistance among microbes and doctors now operate in a state of near panic as common infections demand increasingly powerful drugs for control.

Our bodies are made of trillions of microorganisms and they’re there for a reason. It seems we’re killing germs at our own peril. What’s your take?

Giant Microbe Products

A virus spreads in just 2 hours. Why the war on germs is in your hands.

Germs are everywhere. In optimal conditions a virus can divide every 20 minutes, spreading rapidly where they dwell. In fact, contamination of a single doorknob can lead to the spread of viruses throughout an office building or hotel in as little as two hours.

Researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop. At multiple time intervals (from two-to-eight hours) the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, bed rails, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. And guess what? Nearly 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two-to-four hours.

“If we placed a tracer virus on the push plate to an office building, it ended up on almost 50 percent of the high-touch surfaces of officer workers’ hands within four hours,” says study author and microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD. “In the case of the hotel, we placed the virus on the nightstand in one room, and it was spread to the next four rooms by the maid during cleaning.” Also, the first item to become contaminated in the workplace was the coffee pot handle. Other contamination hot spots are phones, computers, and desktops.

Of course, our own bodies play host to around 100 trillion microbes that together weigh more than two pounds. They are present on our skin, in our guts, in the crooks of our elbows, and just about everywhere else. Your immune system protects against most microorganisms, but there are hundreds of thousands of different kinds of germs, and some of them are good at mutating into things your body doesn’t recognize. And they make you sick.

To get an idea of just how many microbes we carry—and which ones spread fastest—researchers are even testing our most intimate possessions: our cell phones. In a small study, University of Oregon scientists tested the index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects, along with the touchscreens of their smartphones. As you might expect, they found an 82 percent overlap between the most common types of bacteria found on participants’ fingers and on their phones.

So your cell phone is covered with a personal bacterium cocktail? Clean it with a soft cloth dampened with water and wipe it down, or use a disposable wipe made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone. The same goes for all of your other gadgets, too, including remote controls, headphones and ear buds, your computer keyboard, mouse, and tablet screen.

Yes, the war on germs is in your hands. Handwashing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Just make sure you’re doing it right. Friction (especially between the fingers) and duration—20 seconds with running water—are both important. And anything your hands touch are carriers. Learn all about handwashing here.

Here’s something else to think about: On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s not surprising; the toilet is cleaned regularly. And remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and iPods get touched way more than the toilet. Multiple coworkers and guest also share them—yet they are cleaned less often. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics—just make sure to read the label before using them.

This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home or office and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches? You really should give them a once-over using disinfecting wipes—and don’t use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

It’s easy to keep things clean. Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won. But the first step is you. Now go wash your hands!

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