Germ Warfare: Some Interesting Statistics

A came across an article I’d clipped out of Mother Jones magazine about a year and a half ago that was loaded with interesting facts and tidbits regarding our obsession with cleanliness. Here are some of the more interesting items that stood out for me:

  • In 2007 Americans spent $7.3 billion on cleaning products and $2.4 billion on soap. Antibacterial chemical sales alone were expected to reach $930 million by end of 2009.
  • The U.S. market for hand sanitizers has grown 200% since 2002. Purell controls more than half of the $164 milion industry.
  • In 1993 there were only a few dozen antibacterial consumer products. Today there are more than 9000, with 2,753 introduced in 2007!
  • In 2005, an FDA advisory panel concluded that antibacterial soap is no better than regular soap for preventing infection.
  • Triclosan, [a derivative of Agent Orange] and the active ingredient in many antimicrobial soaps, has been detected in women’s breast milk and 58% of U.S. waterways [scary …]
  • A 2007 study found that adults who regularly use household cleaning sprays are 30-50% more likely to develop asthma.
  • Double-dipping a chip transfers 10,000 bacteria to the dip!
  • A dermatologist told the New York Times that dirty exercise mats may have caused an uptick in skin infections among women who do yoga and Pilates.
  • Pediatricians prescribe antibiotics to more than 50% of kids who complain of sore throats.
  • The Lancet reports that American doctors order antibiotics for 80% of patients with sinus infections – usually caused by the cold virus.
  • In 1974, 2% of staph infections were resistant to antibiotics; today, more than 60% are.
  • A sampling of New York doctors’ ties found staph on 1/3 of them.

And last but not least, my favorite tidbit of them all (ah, the irony of it):

  • Australian doctors have treated kids’ eczema by giving them “dirt pills” containing good
    bacteria.

So much for Germ Warfare!

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