Monthly Archives: June 2016

Could you be sued for your bad habits?

Girl - oh no
We could all be liable – and never even know

We all have them. Bad habits we don’t want anyone to know about.

Not always so easy with cleanliness and hygiene. Our “crimes” are too obvious to miss.

Yeah OK,  we know we should tidy up. Not just for appearances, but to stay out of trouble.

Easy enough for ourselves, but a minefield of nasty surprises when what we do impacts other people.

That’s the thing, see. It’s not just us. If it was, we could live like slobs and nobody would care.

A wider responsibility

Except we don’t live alone, do we? Family, friends, work colleagues, customers – our lives are intertwined with maybe hundreds of people – all of whom could get mighty pissed off if our behaviour messes with their health and living conditions.

Of course, a lot of this we already know – and unconsciously correct for.

A lift full of wrinkled noses at our sweat and BO very quickly persuades us to use regular deodorant. Same thing with breath fresheners and toothpaste.

Smells are offensive, yes. They’re also a sign of bacteria at work. Something isn’t right, so bacteria are eating it. The smell of infection and disease is a warning for others – it could be contagious, keep away.

And right there is our hiccup. What it is that makes bad habits bad.

Bacteria.

Actually microbes of all kinds – bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa. “Bugs” to most of us – nasty germs that make us ill and bring us down. At least that’s our usual experience of them.

And why our bad habits can bring so much trouble.

We luck our bugs onto other people and they can get ill. Depending on the illness, it could screw up their lives. There could be permanent damage – disability, deformity, mental impairment. They could even die.  Super bad habits, super bad all round.

None of which is likely to win us as friends. It’s our fault, we’ve ruined their lives, they want compensation. Think of a number with lots of zeroes behind it it. That’s us, paying for ever – the unwanted price for a silly bad habit.

Bad, bad, bad

And no, we’re not talking the gruesome stuff that some people get up to – eating food dropped to the floor per the crazy “five second rule”, eating off plates unwashed from a previous meal, or wearing week-old clothes.  We’re on about day-to-day things, the daily bad habits that all of us share.

Number One is not washing our hands.

We all reckon we do wash them, but most of the time we don’t, as these shocking statistics show:

How can we be so careless? Because we judge by appearances, not reality. Our hands look clean, therefore they are. Meanwhile, they’re anything but.

Which does ourselves no good – and those around us neither.

Sure, we’re better off than a century ago, but not because we wash our hands. Back then, many homes did not have a bathroom and most people washed only once a week – a tin bath in the kitchen, filled from the kettle. Toilets were the “long drop,” often outside. Even running water and sewerage were not available to everyone.

Modern day hygiene levels are a quantum leap away, which makes us a lot healthier. Bathrooms are essential, our super-efficient toilets are discreet – and our whole culture makes baths a regular indulgence, showers a daily treat. We’re cleaner and healthier in every possible way.

But not our hands.

Always hands

They get down and dirty as much as they always did. Germs are as invisible as they always were too. So we waltz through the day with the same carelessness that we always have, never thinking for a moment that many of our illnesses are therefore self inflicted.

All the usual bad guys – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, norovirus, even colds and flu – are all afflictions picked up by direct contact.

And no, we don’t always catch them from food which is contaminated by them – more likely we catch them from food which we ourselves have tainted with our own mitts – germs from a whole day’s worth of touching things without washing our hands.

Just ask yourself this. Sitting down for a meal in a restaurant, when was the last time you washed your hands? Come on, genuinely?

When you came in? Before you left home? As you left work? After your last pee break? After lunch? After breakfast? When you did your teeth?

And how many things have you touched since that time? Things that were touched by other people?

How many germs did you pick up, or transfer elsewhere by direct contact?

And how many times did you touch your face during all of that, passing germs on through the soft tissue of eyes and mouth? (Hint: most of us touch our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day.)

Germs on our hands!

Passed on by touching all the things we share in common. The firm handshake of friendship, door handles, light switches, keypads, documents, money, knives and forks. We pass germs to other people, they pass germs to us. Because it’s not just our hands that are unwashed, it’s all of those other things too.

Your fault? Theirs?

We’re all equally culpable.

Because all we have to do is wash our hands and nothing happens. No illness, no time off work, no loss of income, nothing. No reason for anyone to sue.

Unless of course we’re responsible for the things we touch.

Then Number Two, it’s our negligence – failing to protect people from germs caught off objects  we didn’t keep safe. Not cleaned, not disinfected, the equivalent of not washing hands all over again. Well, who does wipe down the lift call buttons and sanitise every telephone handset at least once every day?

Except that’s fixable too. By sterilising the lot – and the actual room they’re in – by misting the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Reaching everywhere, all viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing, destroyed, dead.

At a stroke, all the “touchables” and the environment they’re in are safe and free from germs.

Bad habits?

We still have them of course. Always posing for selfies. Wearing trainers at work. Two twists of sugar with our flat white.

But nobody’s likely to sue us for them.

Picture Copyright: halfbottle / 123RF Stock Photo

How not washing your hands could land you in court – or worse

Shocked businesswoman
Hygiene horror: one act of carelessness could ruin your whole life

Hygiene negligence is not a crime. But not washing your hands can get you in a lot of trouble – even outside the medical sector.

A shocking number us are guilty of forgetting to do it, or not even thinking about it. And then we wonder why wildfire illnesses like norovirus can suddenly come out of nowhere and turn our world upside down.

Fact is, we touch so many things in an ordinary day, our hands are inevitably contaminated.

But because they don’t look dirty – most germs are too small to see, even with a powerful microscope – cleaning them off is not on our radar.

Hygiene horrors

We’re pretty sloppy if we ever do remember too. Because incredibly:

OK, so here’s a question.

If your hands didn’t get washed, how about the things you touch after you’ve been to the loo? Don’t they become contaminated? There’s poo on there – minute traces of faecal matter – inevitably transferred to documents you handle, and so to the hands of your colleagues.

Don’t believe us?

Try this. Every banknote in the country – including the tenner in your purse – is contaminated with cocaine.

As a result, among all the other things you have on there, your hands have small traces of cocaine on them. You’re tainted, even though you never use the stuff – and never go anywhere near a dealer.

Worse, any test would prove positive – and you could be fired. Just like the poor bus driver in Bristol – sacked after handling several hundred pounds in cash and then not washing his hands.

All-too-easy contamination

But it doesn’t have to be drugs that get you busted. Straight poo will do. Not washing your hands is not choosy.

Like, how about your whole office goes down at a critical stage – everybody working on a big make-or-break business pitch – specially-hired consultants, a whole team of experts, plus visiting firemen from overseas…  then norovirus puts them out of action?

Cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea – nobody can work with those. Four critical days off the grid, everything dead in the water. So what happens when the job goes pear-shaped and the contract falls through?

Cutbacks, staff layoffs – the brass will want to know why.

So suppose they investigate and trace the source of the outbreak to you? And suppose because of TV security surveillance, they can prove not washing your hands after being in the loo?

Yeah OK, you’re a workaholic and you were actually sitting on the bog, thrashing out vital details on your phone. Sure, nobody is more committed than you. But now straight carelessness has brought the whole company down.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, right? And so unnecessary. Simply from not washing your hands.

How many millions is it? And they can tie the negligence directly to you? The deal of the century, down the tubes – just because you didn’t wash your hands?

Price of forgetfulness

You could be looking at dismissal, maybe even a ban on working in the same industry for months or years. It happens to careless professionals in the medical sector, so why not to you?

Never knew not washing your hands could be so important?

So what if it wasn’t norovirus, but something more lethal? Cholera, say, from your holiday in South Africa. Those contaminated guavas you bought in Kwa-Zulu Natal – only you didn’t know they were contaminated.

And you’re OK, by lucky chance you’re a carrier – it doesn’t affect you – but two of those experts have underlying heart conditions and one of them dies. What then?

Yeah, just simple soap and water.

With proper scrubbing of your fingers going through Happy Birthday twice, the easy abrasive action gets rid of 99.9% of all germs on your hands.

Five minutes dry to dry – and you get to keep your job, your colleagues are OK, the big deal comes in, and everybody gets a raise.

Not washing your hands has a lot more riding on it than any of us realise.

Picture Copyright: bruno135 / 123RF Stock Photo

Sick of the referendum? Or is it norovirus again?

Pretty girl - not me no way
There’s no getting rid of norovirus unless you’re really, really sure everywhere is clean

Not nice, either of them – referendum or norovirus.

Making them go away is not easy either. Though norovirus DOES do that by itself after a few days.

As long as it’s prevented from coming back again.

A pernicious one, norovirus. Unless we’re careful, it keeps coming back and back and back.

Except luckily, we know why – and we CAN stop it.

Yes, it does mean lots of cleaning. Thoroughly disinfecting everywhere in sight.

OK is not OK, it has to be perfect

Everywhere that’s not in sight too. This is a bug that spreads everywhere and it doesn’t pay to take chances. Explosive vomiting and diarrhoea are its two nasty ways of getting itself everywhere – fiendishly persistent, just like the referendum.

So it gets in every corner and crevice, seeps through drapes and underlay – and worst of all, takes to the air. Don’t forget that smell too, is airborne, so there’s no mistaking its presence.

But norovirus doesn’t stop there.

In the air and everywhere

As other tiny particles that have no smell, no more than 2 microns across – it rides, microscopically tiny – on the smallest of wafts and breezes to spread even further.

Which means, like a referendum canvasser, that it’s not got rid of so easily. Ordinary wipe-clean methods just aren’t good enough – and even strong bleach is not effective unless it’s in constant contact for ten minutes or more.

Any effective clean-up therefore has to include the air –  as well as getting into every remote seam and crack – and reaching every surface, underneath as well as on top, behind too. Not something that’s possible with a mop and bucket.

Safe, sterile and secure

Easily do-able though, with a Hypersteriliser.

At the touch of a button, this wheelie-bin-sized mobile console generates a super-fine mist of electrostatically-charged hydrogen peroxide that actively reaches through the air to grab viruses and bacteria on the fly, oxidising them to nothing.

Forty minutes later, the room is sterilised – while any referendum canvasser is still banging away on the doorstep. No more norovirus, no more anything, the place is safe from all germs – and so is everybody who ventures in there.

Not a sexy subject, but who wants to feel ill and throw up all the time?

Which is why the Hypersteriliser can win any referendum.

Keeping safe from the cramps, upchucks and runs gets everybody’s vote, every time.

Picture Copyright: malyugin / 123RF Stock Photo

It took guts to dump the EU – now we need guts again to dump antibiotics

Fighting woman
Time to get tough and take hard decisions

Dump? As in “get rid of?” We can’t be serious, antibiotics save lives. We’d literally be dead without them!

We’ll be dead with them too – after long, slow, lingering illnesses.

Just like the EU – all milk and honey right now, but a disastrous train smash down the line.

Nobody wants to accept it, even our health gurus look like they’re in denial. But the evidence is shoved in our faces every day – antibiotics are a Jekyll and Hyde monster.

Because, yes, antibiotics do save lives. Modern medicine would be impossible without them. Miracles like heart transplants, hip replacements and caesarean births – sorry, can’t be done any more.

The mega-downside

It’s a hell of a lot to lose.

But a hell of a lot worse if we don’t dump antibiotics right now – and start actively hunting alternatives.

You see, while all the miracle-making has been grabbing headlines and saving thousands from certain fatality, the dark side of antibiotics has been creeping up, and is already threatening millions.

We need to dump them like the plague.

Which is exactly the kind of damage that antibiotics are doing. And it takes guts to realise it – because that’s where it’s happening – in your gut and ours, in everyone’s on the planet.

Down there, in our tummies, where digestion takes place. Low-profile background antibiotics at work. Not like the triple-whammy intravenous super heroes. Or the local dab-on-skin trouble-shooters.

Killers at work

Out of sight, out of mind, these guys are killers too – because that’s what antibiotics do, they kill bacteria. And by being in our tummies, they kill some of our own gut bacteria, the vital friendly kind that handle digestion, produce proteins, manage our immune systems and a thousand other chores.

They don’t just kill, they maim. Cause our bacteria to malfunction.

One thing they do is switch off our appetite control – we never know when we’ve had enough, so we overeat a lot of the time.

The other thing is to bump up food absorption – we extract more nutrients than our systems are meant to, making us fatter and fatter.

It’s not our food that does this – the burgers, pizza and chicken so many of us like so much. It’s the antibiotics IN our food – so we eat two helpings instead of one, with double ice cream afterwards, and a mega-Coke, just to be sure.

The proof is in our bulging waistlines – two-thirds of us are bigger than at any time in our history, already overweight or clinically obese – unwanted extra pounds that we’ve never had before.

Over-absorption

Demonised junk food maybe, but even our esteemed Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has not totally rejected pizza. Just a nibble from a smaller portion perhaps – as recommended by the Department of Health.

A miniscule taste of spinach and mushroom on a whole-wheat base – no challenge at all to a slim and trim athletic figure. No, not pizza, not junk food, not couch potato lifestyle, none of the current bogeys.

It’s over-eating and over-absorption that’s the problem. With over-absorption sneaking up on an increasing number of us unawares. Which means Dame Sally is right when she identifies obesity as a threat on par with terrorism.

Actually, it’s worse. Several million times worse.

Terrorism plus-plus

It might be hard to believe judging from headlines around the world, but UK deaths from terrorism currently average the same as from bees, just 5 a year.   Yes, shockingly, world-wide terrorist casualties for 2014 reached a grisly 32,658 – about the same as Europe-wide road accidents.

Against that, obesity-linked diseases are projected at 38,500 new cases of cancer a year by 2035 – plus 4.62 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, and 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease. That’s a staggering 7.6 million of us – roughly 10% of the nation – way worse than terrorism.

So how do we know it’s antibiotics that fatten us? And how do they get into our food?

Quite simply, from the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world uses every year – around 70-80% of them shovelled into commercial farming livestock, to stabilise intensive factory-farm production AND perform as growth boosters.

For the last 50 years farming has been revolutionised by the phenomenal effect antibiotics have in accelerating growth in farm animals. Added to livestock feed in small doses every day, their performance is astounding. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

All in the poo

But animals are only the beginning. Though they fatten up amazingly, they still dump around 80% of the nutrients they eat as dung.  Cow pats rich in nutrients, supplements, vaccines and antibiotics – which are all collected and used as manure – prized “all-natural” fertiliser for all kinds of plant crops – grains, vegetables, fruit, and of course feedstuffs.

So whatever it is we’re eating, “re-cycled” antibiotics are already in our food chain. Chomped down unwittingly in small doses with every meal, just like the animals. Proven growth boosters administered in exactly the same way – yet health authorities are either in denial, or don’t want to know, that they are the trigger for our obesity.

Obesity that becomes our death sentence – more and more of us crowding in on the NHS – fading from the scene, losing our grip, heading for a feet-first exit.

Like the plague

Yeah, dump antibiotics. Dump them like the plague.

Dump them before there aren’t many of us left.

Sure it takes guts, knowing that they can’t save us after an accident, or keep us alive in major surgery. We’ll just have to bump our hygiene to compensate. Give those germs less and less of a chance to get at us.

Even sterilise our environment to reduce illnesses picked up from each other – the flu that goes around the office, or something more serious – easy enough with a hydrogen peroxide mister.

We know that dumping wins.

We just have to keep at it.

Picture Copyright: fotofreaks / 123RF Stock Photo

Is your workplace making you ill?

Worried lady
Most of us have enough on our plate – who needs microscopic worries around too?

We mean your workplace, not your job.

Any job carries stress which can impact your health – you know your worries better than anyone.

But what about the physical place? Where you’re hard at it eight hours and more every day?

Environment can make a big difference way beyond pleasant surroundings and snappy décor.

Everything around you

For instance, your workplace building itself exerts a major influence. Some are prone to vibrations from passing traffic, or the Underground running below the basement. Some are always cold and damp, however high the heating is set – a source of mould and coughs and colds, without you even knowing.

And how about the heating? The HVAC system might be a wonderful thing – but could also cause you grief. Big office systems need big tanks of water – massive things, probably on the roof or somewhere out of the way, quiet and undisturbed.

Sometimes too quiet. Warm, stationary water is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria – most of the time harmless. But there’s nothing harmless about legionella pneumophila – a bacterium that spreads through fine water droplets in the ventilation ducting – another outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, a kind of pneumonia-like infection you really don’t want in your workplace – it could put you out of action for days or even weeks.

In the air

And how about your workplace air? The quality of it can have a huge effect on your wellbeing. Does it smell fresh? Or tired and dank, like clanking machinery? Plus of course, the old warm/cold issue – the girls want it warm, the boys want it super-cold. (Just get them to take their tie off, it’s acceptable these days – that’ll drop their body temperature 10 degrees in minutes.)

Yes, the air. We never think about that, do we? Empty space, not on the radar. Not like desks and chairs and phones and computers and things.

It’s there, just the same – probably even 80% of your workplace space.

And it’s not empty.

Nor is it just your subtle Thierry Mugler Angel and the wafting fish and chips of that nerdy guy on the far side where all the filing cabinets are.

For a start, there’s the oxygen we breathe – and the nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and other stuff that makes up the natural air around us.

And the imperfections, of course. The tiny motes of dust and other microscopic nothings.

Germs everywhere

Not to mention the germs.

Which means if you’re unlucky enough to come down with anything, the most likely is colleague-itis. A bug you catch from your pals.

You’d better believe it. Aside from the continual germs lurking on your desk and other surfaces throughout the office – 10 million on average, so don’t feel so alarmed – every single one of us pulls around our own aura of personal bacteria, body detritus and skin particles – a constant microbial interchange of billions and billions we’re never even aware of.

All of which we breathe, swallow, get on our skin – most of the time held in check by our immune systems. But sometimes when we’re down – not enough sleep, over-exertion or simply depressed – the bugs see a chance and take it.

And so it begins, another malicious bug in the air-con that will try to attack everyone. Will probably succeed too – because very few people are 100% medically fit. Most of us have an underlying condition of some kind – prone to headaches, a chest complaint, IBS, low blood pressure – all weaknesses for a bug to explore and suddenly you’re down with flu, or norovirus, or salmonella, or any one of a hundred nasties.

Safe, sterile and fresh

But you don’t have to be.

Overnight, the whole office – air included – can be made safe, sterile and completely free from germs at the touch of a button.

A machine called a Hypersteriliser mists the place up with an ultra-fine spray of Ionised hydrogen peroxide – the very same stuff your own body produces to fight germs . A potent antimicrobial, it spreads everywhere, across surfaces and through the air, oxidising viruses and bacteria as it does so, until 99.9999% of them are gone.

How can you tell?

No smells (a sign of active bacteria), your workplace feels fresh. And if there is any mould anywhere – round the window frame where the rain always leaks, for instance – it’s no longer black and horrible, but greyed out and harmless, easy to brush away. Your workplace is safe.

OK, it doesn’t sort out all your workplace problems, but it does sort out germs.

Which makes handling issues after you’ve got rid of them much more of a doddle.

Everything is easier when you’re 100% well.

Picture Copyright: jaykayl / 123RF Stock Photo

Forget the EU, what’s your vote on antibiotics, keep or chuck?

Girl with voting options
The real choice is live or die – not worth risking a mistake

Careful how you vote, your life depends on it.

Antibiotics might seem like lifesavers now, but when all superbugs can resist them, they’ll be as useless as sugar pills.

Which is exactly how things are going, right now. Our two major antibiotics of last resort, colistin and carbapenem have already been compromised – it’s only a matter of time before antimicrobial resistance is total.

No more protection against infection. No more surgical procedures like heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean sections. Get unlucky and you’ll die from a paper cut. Medics are uneasy about their vote.

So if antibiotics are already so far on the skids, why aren’t we already abandoning them for something better? Bacteriophages already look like a possibility.

Food to be fearful of

It’s even worse in agriculture. Where most of the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world produces every year gets pumped.

The discovery that antibiotics boost livestock growth up to four times bigger and faster has revolutionised farming in the last fifty years. Massive factory farms now produce super chickens and super cows. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

During that time, the world hasn’t got any bigger. Still the same amount of land to produce food on – the same rainfall, the same basic climate.

Population though has exploded three times over. From 2½ billion in the 1950s – to 7½ billion today.

All fed off the same land size – but from three times the number of cattle, three times the chickens, three times the sheep, three times the pigs, three times the salmon, three times the feed crops, fruit and vegetables – all thanks to antibiotics. Ask any farmer, he’ll vote for more.

And for the bulk-up, look no further than your own waistline. Not so svelte and trim, hey? We seem to have bulged a bit over the last fifty years. Ballooning up even faster over the last ten.

So big and so fast that medics are calling it an obesity epidemic – and scratching their heads why. Fatty foods? Non-fatty foods? Carbohydrates? Sugar? Junk food?

Mainlining on growth promoters

Meanwhile we’re oblivious to the glaringly obvious – that every meal we eat is food accelerated by the growth trigger of antibiotics. Every mouthful includes a further dose of the same booster that cows and chickens eat. We’re getting fat off the same stuff they do.

Which puts us about as far away from lifesavers as it’s possible to get. Among the killers at the opposite ends of the scale. Your vote might be in for a big switcheroo.

Because obesity has a price-tag. Continual strain on the body causes diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a slew of other debilitating diseases. Sentencing every one of us fatties to a slow and lingering deterioration and inevitable death – 38 million every year, half the population of Britain.

Yeah, so follow the chain. Antibiotics makes us fat, fat makes us unhealthy, a lot of us are going to die.

So where does your vote stand? Antibiotics: keep, or chuck?

Not much of a choice is it?

Not if you want to live.

Picture Copyright: iko / 123RF Stock Photo

Cracks in our sanitising systems make us ill

Cleaner with cracks
However hard you scrub, only hydrogen peroxide can get to the germs lurking in cracks

Thorough is thorough – but can you ever be sure of all the cracks?

The strongest bleach, the hardest wipe – even a good old scrub never gets deep down where the bugs hide – breeding, ready to come out when you’ve finished.

And cracks are everywhere aren’t they?

Hard to reach corners and crevices, the kind you use a blade to get at. No chance really. If a bug’s in there, it’s a recurring problem.

So what is it? Escherichia coli? Salmonella? Campylobacter?

Or something more hazardous – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)? Clostridium difficile? Somebody’s going to be awful sick.

Dangerous germs you can’t reach

Because there’s no way to get down in the groove round a worktop edge, in the grouting between tiles – not with any effectiveness. And how about behind computers and monitoring machines – all those twisting cables? Short of sitting down and wiping every single one – without getting it wet, which might blow up the system – you’re fighting a losing battle.

So those bugs come back, again and again. Norovirus is a great boomerang bug. And the rest of the place is a real challenge anyway. Plenty of places that never get touched – the walls above head height, the ceiling tiles – and whoever drags out fully loaded cupboards to process behind them, or on top? And still has the puff to push them back afterwards?

Impossible, right?

Conventional methods just can’t hack it. Not even if your fingers are raw and your throat is sore from breathing in the fumes – strong stuff to make it work harder – it still doesn’t do the job.

Not enough contact time for starters. Those pesky bugs are survivors, so a few seconds with even the strongest bleach won’t knock them out.

Getting to them is just as hard. You might clobber worktops and tables, get to cupboard doors and curtains if you’re thorough.

Up in the air, and potentially deadly

But the biggest space of all remains untouched – there’s no way you can physically scrub the air. And with microbes down to the size of 2 microns or less – thinner than candle smoke – they’re light enough to fill the air in their billions, untouched however hard you try.

To win against germs, you have to fight their way. Not down and dirty, but up and easy.

These tiny things can float around however they like, can climb into the smallest spaces only an atom thick. So to be sure of getting rid of them, you have to do the same.

Which is press button easy with a Hypersteriliser. No gloves, no headache-making bleach, no rubbing and scrubbing, you don’t even have to be in the room.

A nifty wheelie-bin-sized console, it mists up the air with a mild solution of ionised hydrogen peroxide, non-toxic and non-hazardous at only 6% strength.

The hydrogen peroxide is negatively charged – which causes it to try to escape from itself in all directions. So it’s not just a wafting cloud – it’s an ultra-fine mist, actively forcing itself upwards and outwards, hard up against all surfaces and deep into any cracks.

Viruses and bacteria are drawn to the mist like iron filings to a magnet, their positive charge attracting them helplessly to the negatively charged hydrogen peroxide. No ordinary hydrogen peroxide either – ionising transforms it from a gaseous vapour to a plasma, a kind of charged super-gas that releases other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Locked in a deadly embrace, the germs are oxidised in seconds. This causes the hydrogen peroxide to lose its charge and it reverts to oxygen and a tiny amount of water, so small it evaporates before it touches anything – sensitive equipment stays safe and dry.

Safe, sterile and secure

The room is now sterile – no germs anywhere. Not on surfaces, not under or behind them, not in the air, not anywhere. 99.999% of all viruses and bacteria are gone – that’s down to 1 particle in a million – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Slightly better than bleach, hey? Which at best can only reach Log 3 – and misses out the inaccessible bits, especially the cracks.

Easy peasy – and everybody safe.

Nobody getting ill on your watch.

Picture Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo

Our antibiotics overdose – 7.6 million new cases of cancer, heart disease and diabetes

Overdose victim
We all overdose without knowing it. And action from our health authorities is way overdue

Some overdose. 7.6 million of us makes it 1 in every 10.

Climbing 4 in 10 by 2035.

Nearly half the population of Britain, chopped down by terminal disease.

Condemned to long, slow suffering and years of pain – all from antibiotics.

The end of all of us

Serious stuff from the Obesity Health Alliance – a group of high-powered experts from Cancer Research UK, the British Medical Association, six Royal Colleges and the Royal Society of Public Health.

Quite rightly, they’re sounding alarm bells as our current obesity epidemic takes hold. 18,000 of us a year falling to cancer, rocketing to 38,500 by 2035. 4.62 million new cases of type 2 diabetes. 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease. A staggering 7.6 million of us.

And that’s not including other obesity-triggered illnesses such as high blood pressure, liver disease, osteoarthritis or chronic kidney disease.

Again quite rightly, the Obesity Health Alliance wants action NOW. Junk food advertising to be banned on TV from 6am to 9pm, food industry limits on sugar and fat – and of course, the much-vaunted sugar tax.

How wrong can we be?

Er, seriously?

Guaranteed, that will achieve nothing.

Junk food doesn’t make people fat – if you can justify calling it that. Fast foods like burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and the like are all good healthy foods that satisfy millions of people who are NOT obese. They don’t get fat eating them – only if they eat too much. If they overdose.

“…many of the dishes glorified by the wholesome-food movement are as caloric and obesogenic as anything served in a Burger King.”  David H. Freedman, The Atlantic magazine

Exactly like they would pigging out on avocado and bananas if they ate enough. It’s not the food that’s unhealthy, it’s the act of gorging on it.

The government can pass all the laws they like – control food content, add warning labels, restrict sales to adults over the age of 35 on presentation of their driving licence – it will make no difference. Just as a sugar tax will make no difference either.

Oh sure – in Mexico, sugar tax caused sales to drop by 12%. That’s sales, not consumption. In the dry areas where there is no safe water supply and the local bottled water doesn’t measure up, people are drinking Coke in the same volumes they always did. No change, even though the stuff costs more.

Is anybody watching?

So come on, what’s with our health professionals who should be calling the shots here? The Obesity Health Alliance, the government, Public Health England, the NHS, everybody – they’re all looking the wrong way.

Fact: people only get obese because they consume too much.

They overdose on food.

And they only overdose because their systems are out of balance. Human beings do not naturally overeat. We are not naturally fat – and throughout history, we never have been. Where on this planet are there naturally occurring fat people?

Right, there aren’t any, because they don’t exist.

But all around the world, all kinds of people are suddenly getting fat. They didn’t do that fifty years ago, what’s different?

One word – antibiotics.

But not as the miracle lifesaving drugs we all think they are and rely on them for.

As growth promoters – specifically for commercially produced livestock. The overdose trigger.

Bigger, better, fatter, faster

For fifty years, antibiotics have been pumped into farm animals daily with their feedstuff – to bulk them up bigger and faster. Extracting more out of the same nutrients in a fraction of the time, they have enabled massive factory farms to mass produce food on a scale so large, our world now supports three times the population that it did fifty years ago – all off the same land area.

2½ billion people in the 1950s, 7½ billion people now – that’s the colossal boosting effect of antibiotics as growth promoters working on our food supply – 240,000 tonnes a year right now, and set to climb nearly 70% by 2030.

Yeah, so why are our health authorities looking past this? Or are they in denial?

Animals eat antibiotics, they get fatter. We eat the same animals, we get fatter. We also eat the vegetables, fruit and plant crops that manure from these same animals fertilise. So that with every single meal, from every single source, we get a daily dose of antibiotics – our daily obesity top-up nudge.

Not junk food, junk drugs

So why isn’t anybody surprised here? We’re sleep-walking into this and nobody even notices. At least after 50 years of smoking, health authorities started to listen – and today it’s a recognised health risk.

No difference with obesity. Not just from eating too much, but from EXTRACTING TOO MUCH food value from the stuff we do eat. Just like the cows and pigs and sheep and chickens, our systems have been glitched by antibiotics, it’s what they’re now programmed to do.

“… roundly demonized junk food companies could do far more for the public’s health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50.” David H. Freedman, The Atlantic magazine

Which means even if you DON’T gorge yourself stupid, or glug Coke by the barrel, as top echelon medics like to think we do – we continue to get fatter and fatter. We never used to do it, but now two-thirds of us are already tipping the scales at the porker  level.

Next stop, cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, osteoarthritis,  chronic kidney disease – take your pick. Our overdose reward.

So, OK Westminster – let’s see if you’ve got brains. Don’t nanny us with how much sugar is allowed in our food – or how much fat, salt, preservatives, additives, colourants, or any other stuff is in there.

Get tough legislation

Ban the antibiotics. Ban them outright.

It’s too late for us existing fatties, of course – we’re already on the slippery slope – with ten or twenty years of hospital visits to look forward to, and an oversize coffin at the end.

But not for our children.

Pull the plug on this self-inflicted curse we’ve lucked on ourselves – and watch new generations grow up athletic and slim like they’re supposed to be. With stronger immune systems too – not clobbered by the biological cosh of antibiotics.

No more overdoses. No more antibiotics. Healthy at last.

One hell of a problem for modern medicine though. No more protection for intricate procedures, almost all surgery totally impossible.

But that was going to happen with antibiotics resistance anyway. The drugs aren’t working – and they kill us by the way we eat – time to dump them.

Time to let everybody live – and end the biggest overdose of all time.

Picture Copyright: yacobchuk / 123RF Stock Photo

Who is liable if your office chair breaks? And how about if you get flu?

Questioning girl in chair
Yes, it’s your employer’s responsibility to help you keep healthy and well

Dodgy place the office can be. Your squeaky-wheel chair. Paper cuts. Stabbing yourself with the stapler.

Plenty of misadventure and only yourself to blame.

But how about if the ceiling falls in? You get trapped in the lift? Or your office chair breaks?

How about if it’s major and you get hurt? Have to go to hospital? Or even take time off?

Most employers are pretty sympathetic.

It wasn’t your fault. They’ve got insurance. The landlord has pots of money and it’s all fixed PDQ – no questions, no worries. Everything turns out hunky.

Duty of care

OK, none of these things happen very often – but most bosses accept that if they do, then it’s their responsibility. Part of their duty of care.

Your workplace welfare is their concern, it’s their job to look after you. And Numero Uno on their list of obligations is ensuring a safe work environment.

Some of them take it further and invest in a workplace wellness programme – actively looking to support and promote employee health, safety and wellbeing.

Hold that thought, health.

When you’re out of action, you’re off the grid. Your job doesn’t get done, there is a hole in the fabric at work. It can lose money, it can lose customers. It can lose goodwill and momentum.

Not so bad if you’re off for a few days from the wrench to your ankle when your chair gave way. Your boss is embarrassed and hoping you won’t sue.

Not your fault

But how about being off with the flu?

Not quite the same, is it? Not exactly your fault, but not quite so sympathetic about it either. Silly you, taking chances out in the rain. Yes, so you caught it from somebody on the tube – but you should be more careful.

And then the flu turns out to be MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. More like pneumonia than flu and people can die from it. And your colleague on the desk next to you just came back from Bahrain.

Company trip or personal, it doesn’t matter. Nobody knew she had it – still in incubation or possibly she is a carrier, catches a mild version and is none the worse for wear.

But not you, you’ve got the lot – fever, coughing AND the diarrhoea. Just from sitting there, doing your job.

Not fair and not right.

Though not even knowing about it, your employer has failed to protect you. Maybe others in your team will also come down with it. Your workplace welfare is compromised and your employer is derelict in duty of care

Derelict?

Care and protection

Oh yes. There’s a whole team of you working together in the same space, normal office bullpen. None of you is the same and probably most of you have some kind of underlying condition – weak chest, heart murmur, IBS, or prone to migraines.

These weaknesses make you vulnerable. If some bug goes around – flu, norovirus, whatever – you’re more likely to get hit. And more likely to get complications.

You need protection FROM EACH OTHER – and as a regular workplace hazard encountered in every business, your employer should provide it.

It’s already necessary too.

One of the highest health hazards of all, ordinary office desks are regularly infested with 10 million of more germs. Escapees from the nightly cleaning crew wipe-down, or long-term lurkers on keyboards, phones, documents, etc – or in the dusty bunnies and detritus behind display screens and control consoles, inaccessible in coils of cabling.

Uh huh. But not the employer’s nightmare it might seem to be.

The premises get cleaned out nightly, right? Vacuumed, wiped down, trash emptied. It might LOOK clean, but the germs are still there – along with others swirling in the air, brought in on the personal auras of you and your colleagues.

Believe it or not, each of us trails a cloud of microscopic bacteria, viruses and body debris – as personal to each of us as a fingerprint or retina scan.

Easy peasy answer

OK, so get rid of the germs too. No germs, no illnesses, no infections. Nobody off work, everybody happy. That massive chunk of absenteeism expense is deleted from the balance sheet.

Unbelievably easy too – with almost no effort.

After everyone’s gone home, a Hypersteriliser gets wheeled in – a kind of dinky, wheelie-bin-sized anti-germ console. Hit the button and the place gets misted up with an ultra-fine super-dry mist of non-toxic, ionised hydrogen peroxide – the same natural germ-killer our own bodies make for ourselves.

The mist is electrostatically charged, which does two things.

First, every single particle tries to get away from itself, like magnets with the same polarity, pushing each other away. This forces the mist to power-disperse in all directions – hard up against all surfaces, walls and ceilings, deep into cracks and crevices, and clutching hard at every single coil of wire.

Second, the negative charge of the peroxide is actively attracted to the positive charge of bacteria and viruses. It vigorously reaches out and grabs at them as it spreads – again like a magnet, snatching at them like iron filings – out of nowhere, out of everywhere – clinging to them and oxidising them to nothing.

Forty minutes later, they’re all gone – the whole place is completely sterile. No MERS, no nothing to threaten anybody. Everybody safe.

Now go tell your boss.

If she knew it was that easy, she’d fall off HER chair.

Picture Copyright: cherezoff / 123RF Stock Photo

Funding for AMR research? Ask the companies who produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics every year

Stubborn manager
Can’t afford funds for research?
Pull the other one

That’s right, 240,000 tonnes. The amount of antibiotics used worldwide every year.

More than enough for a 25mg dose to every man, woman and child on the planet. Overuse or what?

Overuse – and abuse

But not just for medical purposes. Not just for saving lives and fighting infection.

Most of these antibiotics are pumped daily into farm livestock – ostensibly to keep them healthy, in reality to bulk them up for market – to accelerate their growth so they’re four times the size in a quarter of the time.

Amoxicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, erythromycin, vancomycin, you name it – all types that we’re familiar with and have probably taken ourselves at some stage – all get fed to the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep and pigs that feed the world.

Together they account for around 75% of the total 240,000 tonnes world antibiotics output.

You got that right, three quarters of the antibiotics the world chomps through every year are for non-medical use. No wonder we have a problem with antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria always win

No wonder that savvy bacteria – one of the most successful and longest-surviving life forms of all time – have developed ways to overcome whatever we throw at them. With that kind of volume, they’ve even learned over the years how pass their immunity on to others.

It’s now perfectly possible for a doctor to begin treatment for an illness never seen before, only to find it already has a resistance to every drug in the medicine cupboard. Even colistin and carbapenem, normally held in reserve as drugs of last resort, have been found to be ineffective.

Well sure, global demand for colistin in agriculture was expected to reach 11,942 tonnes per annum by the end of 2015 – generating an income of US$229·5 million – and rising to 16,500 tonnes by 2021.

Result, our defences are breached, there’s no more left in the cupboard.

Doctors are now fighting a rear-guard action and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is spelling the total collapse of modern medicine. No more heart bypasses or hip replacements, no more caesarean births – without effective infection control, this is the end.

The world in denial

So all of a sudden, the clamour is on to find new antibiotics. Not 240,000 tonnes of old ones.

Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR adviser to the Prime Minister, has even suggested that drug companies should be forced into researching them – a big stick to be sweetened by cash handouts and incentives if necessary.

Nice one, Jim. Except with 240,000 tonnes regular output, those companies are not exactly strapped for cash.

At 20p for a single 25mg dose of say, amoxicillin, that’s £1.9 billion they’re raking in every year, just from their ka-chunk-ka-chunk machines going round the clock to keep the farmers happy.

In the meantime, resistant bacteria are growing all the time – and getting away with murder.

Which means throwing money at developing new antibiotics is a losing battle anyway. Bacteria always win – so it could be only months, or a best a few years, before the latest wonder-drug also winds up being useless.

And what happens when AMR spreads to shut down agriculture as well? 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep and pigs suddenly peg off – and the next thing is world famine.

You see, nobody wants to face the elephant in the room. That antibiotics are over. Lifesavers while they lasted, but now they’re finished. Even beginning to kill more of us than they’re saving.

What the money needs to be spent on – agricultural profits and cash incentives combined – is a serious REPLACEMENT. Abandoning antibiotics altogether and developing alternatives like bacteriophages – harnessing VIRUSES to destroy pathogenic bacteria.

Rediscover hygiene

Alongside that, we need to jack up our cleanliness levels across the board. Without antibiotics as a safety net for careless and dirty habits, proper hygiene becomes essential. Washing hands whenever possible – removing all health hazards.

Which means sterilising our workplaces too. To protect ourselves from each other as much as from germs. Schools, hospitals, public buildings, restaurants, entertainment places all need the same treatment. The best way to avoid infection is not to expose ourselves to germs in the first place.

Money, money money. It’s a world wide crisis.

Let’s hope those drug companies wake up in time and stop worrying about their 240,000 tonnes.

AMR can wipe them out just as quickly as us ordinary folk.

Picture Copyright: catalin205 / 123RF Stock Photo