Are Hand Sanitizers Really Safe?

sanitation_for_all_logoWith recent concerns over H1N1 and other flu viruses, many people have turned to hand sanitizers to safeguard their homes and offices. The question is, do they really work and how safe are they?

The first point that must be noted in regards to sanitizers is that they were never intended as a complete replacement for washing. If a person’s hands are filthy, hand sanitizer alone cannot penetrate all the dirt and grease required to properly clean.

Another important point that must be emphasized is that in order to get the benefit of the sanitizer, the individual must use the same discretion as he or she would when washing – that is, the sanitizer must be thoroughly rubbed into all surfaces of the hand and let dry to achieve maximum effectiveness.

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Health and Sanitation Practices and Academic Performance of Grade VI Pupils

indexThe provision of health sanitation is a key development intervention – without it, ill health dominates a life without dignity. Simply having access to sanitation increases health, well-being and economic productivity. Inadequate sanitation impacts individuals, households, communities and countries. Despite its importance, achieving real gains in sanitation coverage has been slow. Achieving the internationally agreed targets for sanitation and hygiene poses a significant challenge to the global community and can only be accomplished if action is taken now. Low-cost, appropriate technologies are available. Effective program management approaches have been developed. Political will and concerted actions by all stakeholders can improve the lives of millions of people in the immediate future.

Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population (2.4 billion) has no access to hygienic means of personal sanitation. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.8 million people die each year from diarrheal diseases, 200 million people are infected with schistosomiasis and more than 1 billion people suffer from soil-transmitted helminthes infections. A Special Session on Children of the United Nations General Assembly (2002) reported that nearly 5,500 children die every day from diseases caused by contaminated food and water because of health and sanitation malpractice.

Increasing access to sanitation and improving hygienic behaviors are keys to reducing this enormous disease burden. In addition, such changes would increase school attendance, especially for girls, and help school children to learn better. They could also have a major effect on the economies of many countries – both rich and poor – and on the empowerment of women. Most of these benefits would accrue in developing nations.

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Hand Sanitizers: Good, Bad, Safe or What?

sanitationGrab it – Wipe it – Squirt it – Rub it. It’s the hand sanitizer boogie. OK, so maybe I won’t try and turn this into the next Gangnam Style dance craze. Even though, I think it already is. Hand sanitizing is a popular practice and available at grocery cart stations, banks, schools and other public places where your hand could potentially touch where someone else’s hand – or hands – has already been. And you have no idea where those hands have been before. Just the thought makes you grab the nearest available hand sanitizer, which very well could be in your pocket, jacket or purse.

The use of hand sanitizers is a practice of keeping pathogens, virus bugs and bacteria from doing their sneezing, wheezing and, sometimes, nauseating attacks on we humans and our children. Good or bad, we are a germaphobic society. The awareness that microorganisms cause illness, disease and even death has been one of the more beneficial discoveries in medicine. The question on the minds and lips of some is – have we taken it too far?

The opinion here is – yes we have. But I mostly say this because germaphobia may be unhealthy, both physically and emotionally, which has been shown by the development of seriously lethal antibiotic resistant bacteria and the stress that some people put themselves through over avoiding germs – the constant strain of disinfecting every inch of their environment. Awareness is good, paranoia to the extent of overdoing is not. In relation to hand sanitizers, there is both the good and the bad.

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