Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Worry Wednesday: Shopping Cart Handles

I think I was in college when I saw those disinfectant wipes start showing up by the shopping carts in grocery stores. I considered whether I should, in fact, disinfect the handle of my shopping cart before I began wheeling it around. Granted, it certainly wasn't the cleanest surface in the world, but was it really a big public health hazard? And would those disinfectant wipes really reduce the transmission of diseases that much?

I thought back to my childhood and all the trips I took to the grocery store with my parents. The times I seemed to get sick the most were around Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. And it wasn't that I went to the grocery store more often around those holidays, but I did eat a whole lot more candy. Maybe there was a correlation. After all, God knew that we wouldn't live in a perfectly sanitized world, so He gave us immune systems. Of course, those immune systems probably wouldn't work as well when they were running on junk food. Hhhhmmm... probably better to cut back on the candy and up the orange juice than to head for the disinfectant wipes. Besides, I wash my hands frequently.

I've never sanitized a shopping cart handle to this day and especially since switching to a mostly raw, plant-based diet, Malamute, Duckling and I hardly ever get sick. And even when we do, we recover very quickly. Determined Duckling is almost two and has been sick only once when he had a 24 hour flu a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving- no ear infections, no colds. And in spite several non-disinfectant wipe grocery store trips this winter, none of us have had so much as a cold since then. Heck, my mother-in-law says that when she was a kid, she used to put her mouth on the handles of shopping carts. Gross, but, hey, she never got sick from it either.

I guess the real punchline to all this is that I found out that hand sanitizers aren't that effective in the real world. Turns out that they only kill 99.99% of germs in a sterile lab setting. In the real world, it's more like 40-60%- maybe less if your hands are really dirty. That kinda makes me cringe thinking about this one year I went to rough camp and there was no running water. The leaders brought hand sanitizer and we all used that- even after using the outhouse and when preparing food. Our hands were probably so grimy that the hand sanitizer was more like 20-30% effective. However, none of us contracted any strange infections and died. Actually, we had a lot of fun. But I have to admit, rough camp with only hand sanitizer makes those shopping cart handles seem next godliness. Thank goodness for the immune system.

1 comment:

  1. I am such a germaphobe. I love those disinfectant wipes ;) Especially when I see someone sneeze on their hand and then continue on pushing their cart. BUT.. even though I did not live on a great diet growing up, I hardly ever got sick so I think there is some benefit to avoiding germs ;) But I agree.. they're probably not much worse than anything else we come in contact with on a daily basis.