High Hand Hygiene Adoption Would Greatly Reduce Disease Spread

Only about one in four people wash their hands with soap. If people washed their hands with soap for about 24 seconds each time then this would greatly reduce the transmission of disease.

39 thoughts on “High Hand Hygiene Adoption Would Greatly Reduce Disease Spread”

  1. Hand cleaning (with alcohol) anytime after you’ve come into contact with someone or something someone has touched is the best prevention. And never touch your face. Wearing a surgical mask is more or less useless too. Viruses are too small. Hand cleaning from the bathroom is about bacteria, not viruses.

  2. Of the 4 people who wash their hands, 30%, or 1.2 people (of the 5) use soap.
    So basically, 80% of people don’t wash their hands with soap. I think Brian must have had a typo.

  3. In Israel there are Alcohol Hand Sanitizing Bottles at every doorway and bedside of all the hospitals and clinics and all staff use them including those doing National Service and Medical Clowns.

  4. Yes, people are TAUGHT to wash their hands here. Not so in China. We have soap in our restrooms, especially in hospitals. We don’t believe in folklore medicine, that’s why it’s referred to as Western Medicine. We don’t have monks here claiming you can throw a few chants at the virus and it will do more than going to a doctor. Yes, we have people who don’t wash hands and we have anti-vaxers etc, but those are the minority. It’s not cultural.

  5. Every office has a few of those individuals, those who don’t wash or don’t use soap or just quickly turn on the tap to pretend they are washing when other people are around.

  6. There was an NBF article awhile back about a wavelength within the UV band that can’t penetrate far enough to cause skin cancer or eye damage, but is anti-microbial. Like the copper surfaces, something like this would be a good sort of ‘install and forget’ system for disinfecting public spaces, with the minor maintenance requirement of replacing light bulbs from time to time. We could at least have them in the airport.


  7. I have a cheap phone I don’t trust for banking. I guess I don’t know what you are talking about with the card waving. And I think even with the phone you have to push some buttons anyway. In any case, I wouldn’t trust a devise that can take your money while walking by. Sounds like cyber pick-pocking could be right around the corner, or like I could be charged for the groceries of the guy in the next isle.

  8. Yes, as I sad probably exaggerated. So too is your statement that copper would be long lasting as a grocery cart handle. The reality is that it would get icky very quickly.
    I did get sick from contact with copper. I was lapping a CPU (sanding and polishing the surface to make it very flat for overclocking…not licking it). Granted that was a very fine powdered copper, but the reaction was from touching it. And there have to be people more sensitive than me.

  9. Every regulation or proposed regulation should stand or fall by its own merit.

    This sounds great, but you really want to consider the total regulatory load, as well as the merits of each individual case.

    Otherwise you get the systemic equivalent of the picture below. Each individual one is probably justified; together they are a hopeless mess that overloads everyone and hence all get ignored.

  10. Not all brass has lead. Brass for machining often had lead (it acts as a kind of solid lubricant for the machining, giving much better finish with cheaper tools).
    Brass for casting doesn’t need it. I don’t know which one doorknobs use, I suspect it would be casting alloy.

  11. No, I wasn’t misunderstanding you about wanting a hand washing station when you enter a restaurant: I agree.

    And you push buttons to use a credit card? How are you using the internet from the 1980s? Don’t you just wave your card or phone and it’s all done wirelessly?

  12. Copper toxicity is because people have copper in their diet, not because they touched a brass handle for half an hour once a week.

    (And that article was… not filling me with confidence in the author. Not when she says that copper is used to conduct electricity in wires so it also increases nerve signals.)

  13. There are a number of viruses that after you contract them stay in your body fighting and loosing to your immune system for decades. But some day maybe when you are 84 or 94 your immune system can loose that battle. The herpes family of viruses is well known for this. But adenoviruses and others as well. The older you are, the more of these infections you accumulate. Any simple and easy to implement policy like wiping down grocery cart handles delaying and reducing the collection of these things is a benefit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpesviridae#Human_herpesvirus_types
    Bacterial infections also may also set in motion Alzheimer’s and diabetes: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/oral-bacteria-may-responsible-alzheimers-disease/

  14. #7 Quite a trick to use your debit card without pushing any buttons. I try to avoid touching the counter, but many people do touch it. Women especially, as it makes it easier for them to open their purses. The conveyor and bagging area I am mostly concerned with contamination from leaking meat trays.
    #12 is a sink…not the one in the bathroom…one you wash at right after you pay before you walk to the pile of plates at the buffet. 90%+ of the people who enter a buffet go right to the plates and start loading them up. If they do think of washing…it is some time later. But at the buffet you use their tongues and serving spoons. Everyone touches them. Who washes their hands after touching them every time they load their plate? No one.

  15. Easy to get poisoned by too much copper. Copper desktops are just not going to work. This is probably exaggerated but there is likely some truth to it: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/holistic-psychiatry/201709/copper-toxicity-common-cause-psychiatric-symptoms It would take a janitor all of 10 minutes to clean all the desks. Kids may not share desks but they touch each other’s desks all the time. Similarly, it would take little time to clean the handles of the grocery carts. The seats would take more time…maybe that really is not necessary. But a special rag wiping down each handle? Shouldn’t take more than a minute for 50 carts.
    I did think of doors you can open with your feet…I just ran out of room.
    #5 In food courts they rarely wash the tables. Every table available was already used by 4 other people. Ikea is not bad. I don’t want to name the ones that don’t wipe until closing. I even saw a guy with a broom he was using to sweep the floor, sweep off the tables. #6 Yes, I thought about the 100%. Yet I don’t think it is preposterous. The industry standard for a hepa filter is 99.97% You can buy those anywhere. Going to something like 99.999%+ should not be that difficult. It could incorporate something like Aerogels or reverse osmosis membranes to get there.

  16. Many Chinese believe washing their hands is some form of western-ism. They won’t do it. The older generation still don’t accept things like bacteria and viruses. They believe in traditional Chinese medicine. Even now in China there are texts going around from monks claiming you can just do chants and prayers to cure the virus. Hospitals don’t have soap in the bathrooms! Public restrooms don’t have soap. What a craphole.

  17. You should be able to exit the rest room without touching the handle. Especially since some many people don’t wash their hand. Also people would come to work sick with the flu should be sent home immediately.

  18. No ill effects that you are aware of.
    I’m assuming you have gotten sick at some point in the last 42 years.

  19. .7. This is in a supermarket or something right? Is this really a problem. People shouldn’t be putting their hands on this surface anyway.
    .8. Yeah. Overhanging food is just stupid.
    .9. I assume you mean food that contacts the counter? Yeah, clean those.
    .10. 11. Yes, a box of utensils or condiments that Grubby McPlague just stuck his filthy mitts into is wrong.
    .12. ALL eating (and drinking) places need hand washing facilities for customers (and staff).

  20. I’m also going to disagree with your list, but I’m going to suggest cheaper, easier, more foolproof alternatives.
    ..1 Grocery carts/baskets. You can regulate all you want, you will get people trying to work around the regulations because it costs time = money. Make all the handles with an anti-microbe coating such as a copper/brass surface. Kills germs, is long lasting. Is obvious if it isn’t there. Is something corporate headquarters just orders and now it happens, no constant monitoring required.
    ..2 Air hand dryers… you’re right. Get rid of those horrible things.
    .3. School desks. I assume you are assuming children who share desks, where the desk is used by multiple kids per day. Once again: anti microbe surface is much, MUCH more likely to reliably happen.
    .4. All public toilets, regardless of size, have the doors open outwards so you just push them with your foot. Far cheaper than installing and then maintaining automatic doors. It’s the maintenance that will break the other approach. While you’re at it, the wash basin is OUTSIDE the toilet, so everyone can see if you use it or not. Add a bit of social pressure. And you wash AFTER you use the door, so that doubles up on the hygiene factor there.
    .5. Not sure about this one.
    .6. You’re going to have a lot of trouble with a legal definition of sanitized, ventilate, and 100%. But more clean air is better.

  21. I find it hard to believe that, of the 80% who do wash their hands, only 30% EVER use soap. More likely they’re like me: Using it or not using it as context dictates.

  22. Just as we should not judge a person based on the color of their skin, we should not lump all regulation together and judge it as silly, or wasteful, or as the over reach of the nanny State.
    Every regulation or proposed regulation should stand or fall by its own merit.

  23. I am concerned about needless but unintentional deaths, illnesses and injuries. We do a good job preventing and socially pressuring people not to intentionally kill maim and cause people intense suffering. But the suffering due to negligence, inability to consider consequences, poor policy and such is ignored. Yet the suffering and loss is just as real.
    The cowboy mythology that we provide for ourselves and are responsible for ourselves. And you have to be tough to survive. You die when your number is up, is nonsense. A self-deception at best, potentially a profound cruelty and callus disregard of others.

  24. 7.Register surfaces and conveyors should be cleaned every 2 hours. Belts can be cleaned continually to minimize disruption. But the counter surface and bagging area must still be cleaned every 2 hours.
    8.Any food that is served by a server at a restaurant/food court or carryout must fit entirely on a plate, bowl, or whatever is used to serve the food. Nothing should hang off the edge. 9.Counters used to present food to customers must be cleaned every 20 minutes. 10.Areas where customers grab their own items such as straws lids utensils must be reasonable effective and allowing one to easily touch only one straw lid or utensils and if not individually sealed post a message that children are not permitted in that area. 11.Condiment serving systems should not require one to touch the devise. They must be automatic or be individually wrapped. 12.At buffets and other restaurants where you serve yourself there should be a hand washing sink at the entry and a sign directing use.

  25. You often toss ideas that call for additional regulation. I do not agree with your suggestions. They are silly IMO.

  26. How do you come up with 1 out of 15?
    4 out of 5 wash their hands = 80%.
    30% use soap.

    0.8 * 0.3 = 0.24 or ~1 out of 4.

  27. I end up washing my hands about 15 times a day, mostly because I have lots of cats. And I do the cooking.
    I am not impressed with the CDC or the FDA. They do very little to actually stop and contain a disease. Even the Restaurant letter grades are worthless: https://www.forbes.com/sites/omribenshahar/2017/10/06/restaurant-hygiene-grading-law-gets-a-fail/#93edc7e71a2f
    I think we need several new regulations.1.Grocery cart handles and child seats should be sanitized before they are returned to where the carts are taken by customers into the stores. And the entirety of the carts should be washed every 24 hours (a hose with soap is fine). 2.Ban air hand dryers. They just throw germs everywhere: https://www.sciencealert.com/bathroom-hand-dryers-spread-bacteria
    3.All school children’s desks need fully cleaned every day they are used. All the schools I ever went to, they got cleaned once or twice a year. 4.All public bathroom doors of bathrooms serving more than one person at a time, should have automatic doors for exiting, if they have doors. 5.All restaurants/food courts that have more than 20 customers present must have one employee who is cleaning tables at all times. And use separate rags to wipe seats and table tops. 6.Trolleys, buses and trains must be sanitized every 3 hours in use. And their ventilation systems must be 100% effective at killing microbes, and recycle air every 15 minutes. cont.

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