Hygiene matters!

19 November 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency has highlighted the importance of adopting correct hygiene measures.

FOR THE annual events “World Hand Hygiene Day” (on 5 May) and “Global Handwashing Day” (on 15 October), Sofidel has prepared hygiene tips with the help of Professor Fabrizio Pregliasco, a virologist from the University of Milan and Medical Director of IRCCS Galeazzi (Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalisation and Health Care).

The shower

Showering is certainly more practical and faster than taking a bath. In addition to being environmentally-friendly because it saves water (a normal bath contains about 160 litres of water, while a five-minute shower consumes between 75 and 90), showering is also health-friendly. According to a study carried out by the Department of Microbiology of A&M University in Texas, bath water can become a breeding ground for several types of bacteria: in 95% of cases these are faecal bacteria, in 81% fungi and in 34% staphylococci, the most dangerous of all.

Public transport 

Public transport is where germs have a field day. But perhaps what we don’t know is that the vast majority of these germs are harmless. According to research by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the handrails, seats and touchscreen where we automatically purchase tickets are populated by thousands of billions of microbes, which surprisingly are not actually dangerous for humans. So, holding on to handrails is actually no more dangerous for your health than a normal handshake. In any case, once you reach the office, make sure to pass by the WC to wash your hands before starting work. If that is not possible, you can use a hand sanitising gel: there are lots of different ones available now, including smaller sizes for your handbag. These products can kill up to 90% of bacteria, although washing with soap and water will always be the best solution.

In the office 

Computers, phones and mobiles are indispensable. But do you ever clean them? An American research study (Prof. Beamer and C. Gerba) shows that these tools are genuine hot beds for bacteria: a mouse has an average of 260 bacteria per cm2, a keyboard has 511 and the mouthpiece of a telephone has an impressive 3,895! To avoid these bacteria, all you have to do is clean the device with a disinfectant wipe or spray. But if the devices we use every day are so full of bacteria, what will we run into on the dreaded toilet seat in the office? Only eight bacteria per cm2!

Public toilets

Being afraid to sit on the toilet seat is totally unnecessary, you only need to avoid one if it’s visibly dirty. Don’t touch the toilet seat with your hands and if you really can’t resist giving it a pre-cleaning then use a disinfectant wipe. But toilet seat covers are totally unnecessary and give a false sense of safety. In reality the most effective protection is in fact our skin: it is the largest organ in the human body (weighting 5 kg of weight and covering 1.5-2 m2 of surface area) and acts as a protective barrier against the outside. Once you’ve finished using the toilet, close the lid (using clean toilet paper) or leave immediately after having flushed the toilet to avoid inhaling the aerosol produced by the jet of water, which may contain faecal bacteria. Once outside, wash your hands well and, if possible, use disposable paper towels instead of the electric dryer: its air jet actually increases the number of bacteria present on the hands up to 40 times after drying and can potentially spread contamination to other users. To preserve the hygiene of your just-washed hands, we recommend turning off the tap and opening the toilet door using a paper towel as a barrier.

A germ-free lunch

You’ve reached the mid-way point of your working day and it’s time for your lunch break. As well as washing your hands before and after eating, always put a disposable placemat on top of your food tray so that the cutlery and food does not come into contact with the tray’s surface, which is often washed half-heartedly. Favour packaged cutlery to those distributed in containers where everyone puts their hands and take a disposable paper napkin if one is available. Dishes, glasses, and cups should instead be “germ-free’ because they have been washed in dishwashers at temperatures above 40°. If you prefer to pack your own lunch, pay attention to where you eat: away from your desk, possibly on a surface that’s been previously cleaned and disinfected and in any case by placing the container on a clean paper towel.

And finally...
The last rule: Washing your hands is the simplest, most immediate and certainly the most significant way to combat the transmission of infections.

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