Germs are everywhere – There is an estimated five nonillion (5×10 to the power of 30) bacteria alive and thriving on the Earth today according to an article on Foxnews.com ! Yikes!! They far outnumber plant and human life on this planet.
We know there are “good” and “bad” bacteria. E Coli and the like are bad and then there are viruses as well! We are continually surrounded by microbes. We can never be “germ-free” no matter how hard we try. Germs are everywhere. And we wouldn’t want to because the good news is that the majority of bacteria are “friendly.” They help recycle nutrients; they are needed for digestion of our food, create a natural form of antibiotic in our guts, enhance our immune systems, increase our ability to synthesize B vitamins and to absorb other nutrients and more! However, it is when the bad outnumber the good that problems begin.
Since we are pretty much surrounded with all types of bacteria and viruses and we are particularly vulnerable at this time of year, I thought it would be interesting to know what some of the most germ-laden surfaces are and how you can keep yourself and your family healthy inspite of them.
So here are some facts about these germs we co-exist with daily: Each square centimeter of skin alone harbors about 100,000 bacteria. And a single sneeze can spray droplets infested with bacteria and viruses as far as 3 feet away. Different surfaces can allow the bacteria to live from just a few hours to several days, or even months.
The least favorable type of surface for bacteria to live on is a hard, nonporous surface such as a countertop, tile floor, or glass. Cold and flu viruses can survive on dry surfaces for more than 48 hours, while some bacteria, such as E. coli, can survive on dry surfaces for months on end. Soft, wet surfaces (particularly those with plenty of food) are perfect for bacteria.
Cloth, sponges and carpets that have gotten wet are excellent living places for bacteria because it protects them from exposure to the environment, dry air or sunlight. Money is another surface upon which bacteria can live for quite some time. Paper money is often the worst, but bacteria can even live on coins for several hours as well. Most money is touched by hundreds, or thousands, of people, comes in contact with a variety of surfaces, and is porous, allowing bacteria to move deep inside the fibers to avoid environmental hazards. Money can host bacteria for several weeks at a time, and if used frequently (like $1, $5 and $20 bills) can be re-infected over and over again.
Office computer keyboards are another microbial playground! A study by a UK consumer group tested 33 office keyboards for microbial contamination. From their findings they labeled several as being “health hazardous.” One keyboard had five times as many germs as the same office’s public toilet seats! You should periodically clean your computer keyboard and certainly do not eat near it! Public magazines (especially those in doctor’s offices) and other waiting rooms are another breeding ground for cold and flu germs.
Any magazines in restrooms can also have fecal bacteria (yuk!) If you do read a public magazine, avoid touching your face and always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after.
If you work out in a gym – be aware! A 2006 study in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found the cold virus on 73% of weight-lifting equipment and on 51% of aerobic equipment. It is suggested that you thoroughly wipe down all equipment after use and avoid touching your face until you’ve washed your hands.
A study found two-thirds of shopping cart handles to be contaminated with fecal bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, even more so than public toilet seats. Shopping cart handles are excellent transmitters of diarrhea and other potential illnesses, both to adults and to children. Be sure to use the complementary sanitary wipes many grocery stores offer or wipe handles down with your own disinfectant. It goes without saying you should avoid touching your face while shopping but PLEASE don’t let your young child suck on the handle as I’ve seen some do!
The Lord thought physical cleanliness was so important, He outlined specific measures for his people in numerous places in the Bible (see especially Leviticus 11-17). The bottom line is this: Wash your hands more (with plain soap and water) and avoid touching your face. These two universal measures will go further than anything else to keep you healthy and germ-free all year ‘round.