Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Touch That Dial

After reading a number of recent news stories you would think you better slip on a pair of latex gloves before leaving your house.

Computerworld earlier this week reported on a health study recently published  that showed 41% of ATM machines carried germs that could cause a common cold or flu. According to this report, you cannot ride the escalator at the mall, pump gas in to your car or even take in the mail without putting your hand on a surface covered with these nasty little critters.

Forget about parking your car on the street. You will have to touch the parking meter handle and its dripping with germs. Clearly you're better off just waiting for the traffic light to change since touching that crosswalk button will expose your finger to countless germs.Don't even think about getting food or a beverage from a vending machine.

Last week I read another report of a study that projected one in six cell phones in the UK would test positive for some very nasty stuff. You can click this LINK and see for yourself, but I warn you it is really disturbing. After reading this article I vowed never to borrow a cell phone again.

As a frequent traveler for business, these reports would have me think I shouldn't use the airport restrooms, touch a baggage cart or anything in the gate area. Thank goodness for the internet so you never have to actually go to a bank, travel agent or library any more. But be wary of public kiosks with touch panels. 

Has all the new technology somehow amplified the danger of bacteria? Weren't we just as exposed to all this nasty stuff when phones still had wires attached and human tellers actually handed you money? Didn't our parents allow us to buy candy from gumball machines in the grocery store? You know those knobs weren't cleaned that often, nor the glass ball containing the candy.

Before we get too excited about finding a little poop on some cell phones, let's review a few facts. Germs or  bacteria are a part of life. Most of them are harmless and some are even necessary or helpful. Only a few types out of tens of thousands are actually dangerous but good hygiene habits such as washing your hands with soap can mitigate risk.

The human body continually maintains its defenses against micro intrusions and so eating right, exercise and adequate rest will keep you healthy. Exposure to germs is necessary for the body to build up its defenses. This is the whole premise behind immunization.

As an aside, people really should learn to put the cell phone away before they go to the toilet and only take it out again after properly washing their hands and exiting the facilities.

Captain Joe

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