BY BECKY SHEASBY
I’ve always been under the impression that hand sanitizers were poison, in part due to their toxic smell stinging my nostrils and their tingly effects on my skin. But alas, there are always two sides to every story.
Hand sanitizers serve a solid purpose in our world, helping decrease the spread of harmful bacterias and other tiny organisms. The other side of the coin shows that hand sanitizers are also vastly overused and can have harmful side effects. They also contain certain ingredients that are contributing to the creation of superbugs.
As Conestoga College rolls into the fall and winter seasons, colds and flus are going to run rampant. It’s going to be crucial to keep your germs to yourself; we students have too much on our plates to have to try and beat a cold at the same time. This is one of those occasions that hand sanitizers are a great contribution to society as they prevent the spread of cold and flu germs. Clean your hands after you touch your desk, keyboard, door and anything that might be a home for those rebel bugs.
However, I would like you to think twice before you squeeze that foam or gel into your hands.
Research at the University of Ireland in Galway has shown that when a bacterium such as pseudomonas aeruginosa is added over time to a disinfectant such as benzalkonium chloride, the bacteria learns how to survive. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that leads to urinary tract infections or respiratory problems and benzalkonium chloride is found in hand sanitizers.
“What is more worrying is that bacteria seem to be able to adapt to resist antibiotics without even being exposed to them,” said Dr. Gerald Fleming, the lead author of the study.
Bringing that back to Conestoga College, by overusing hand sanitizers we are putting ourselves at risk of creating resistant bacteria that we will have a hard time fighting off. It may seem like the quicker alternative to washing your hands, but in the long run, I think it’s worth avoiding hand sanitizers to prevent future harm.
So, do yourself a favour and keep the cooties at bay this school year. Just keep in mind the method that you use to deflect bacteria; the benefits of hand sanitizer only go so far.