Saturday, December 1, 2007

Eeek! That's so revolting!

"For the microbe-phobic": a WSJ article (W7) about "Debugging the House." June Fletcher surveys several newfangled ways to kill the microorganisms threatening to kill you while you party. As usual, several of these items risk drug resistance - triclosan, in particular. Here are some fun/weird facts about these five innovations ('but microbiologists have known about these for years!' I say)...
  • Silver ions--used in SilverClene24 (promoted on "a "Brady Bunch" spoof called") to disrupt bacterial "metabolism and reproductive capabilities." Even though it kills MRSA, it doesn't kill others such as the tuberculosis beastie.
  • Copper oxide--the "oxide" part makes it much more effective. Do you want to buy a "copper-oxide-infused Cupron bed linens" set? Pricey like silver. Good against viruses, fungi, and "many antibiotic-resistant bugs." It damages the cell wall and prevents multiplication (but what about division? asks the mathematician).
  • Steam--good old steam. Think of it as killing tiny, malicious vegetables. Whirlpool has made a steam washer--but you need several minutes of sustained high temperatures.
  • Triclosan--this antibiotic is already in oodles of stuff: dish soap, anything with Microban (e.g. an Amana washer, a Rubbermaid high chair [!], Westpoint towels, a new "Bissel Healthy Home Vacuum"). So far, resistance has shown up only in lab tests, but it never hurts to under-use this. Find plain old soap and water. Your parents ate off of germy high chairs and are (hopefully) none the worse for it.
  • UV light--in a Hammacher Schlemmer wand. This is essentially instant skin/DNA cancer for microbes. Be careful not to look at the light or shine it on yourself.
Or you could just ignore all this stuff and observe simple cleanliness methods. Besides, like worms and beetles in applesauce, bugs add protein :D. Bad germs are like Republican goofs--they get all the coverage, while the good ones/deeds get relegated to page 19.

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