Tag Archives: plasma

Antibiotic resistance: take better care of ourselves, or we’re dead

Girl in shower
Without antibiotics, keeping clean becomes our new lifesaver

Dead, as in destroyed by ourselves. Like suicide out of ignorance.

Because if we contract a bug that resists antibiotics, dying is a high probability.

We take the medicine, hoping it’s going to work – and it does nothing at all. We get sicker and sicker – and either our bodies are strong enough to fight it off by themselves, or we get unlucky.

Better not to take that risk.

Which means a whole attitude change to everything we do. And a level of watchfulness we’re not even close to right now.

Rediscover hygiene

Take personal hygiene. Keeping ourselves clean as much as possible, so germs don’t get a chance. Hands especially, the easiest way for germs to enter our mouths, or our eyes. Kinda basic, but just suppose your life depended on it – because it does.

If antibiotics don’t work – and ask any Doc, we’re getting close to that – any germ you catch is free to run riot inside your body. Unstoppable, unless you avoid it in the first place.

Duh, soap and water is not rocket science.

Same principle applies to anything you eat. Is it fresh, is it clean, is it germ-free? Don’t eat it if it’s not – because again, if you get sick, antibiotics won’t save you.

Rediscover awareness

Same thing, even if you’re just walking down the street. Be careful, avoid accidents.

If a bus hits you and you need surgery, antibiotics won’t stop infection. The bugs are resistant and you’re a goner – unless your Doc has a brilliant Plan B.

So be super-observant, all the time. Watch what you’re doing. Avoid accidents. So you don’t get cuts, you don’t get bruised, you don’t break a leg – and you don’t needlessly breathe in someone else’s germs.

Takes all the fun out of life, huh? Or kinda demonstrates how careless we normally are.

Because pretty well every ailment or accident that happens to us is preventable – if we see it coming in the first place and avoid it.

Rediscover survival

Exactly what we must learn to do, if we are to survive without antibiotics.

And yes, we’re going to have to.

Because bacteria keep evolving all the time – have done so successfully for billions of years. So even if medical science comes up with the most amazing antibiotic yet, give it five years and bacteria will always find a way to become immune to it.

Which applies to all our drugs now, and any new ones we might develop in the future – fighting off bacteria is a never-ending battle against a constantly moving target.

Ah, but antibiotics are not the only way to kill bacteria.

They might be the most effective INSIDE your body, but OUTSIDE there are options.

The super germ-killer

And OUTSIDE is where we can get to them before they get to us.

About the most effective way is to oxidise them. Shove oxygen atoms at them that rip their cell structure apart and destroy their DNA.

Which is what hydrogen peroxide does – particularly airborne IONISED hydrogen peroxide.

Composed only of oxygen and water, hydrogen peroxide is the same all-natural germ fighter the body makes for itself. And the concentration we’re talking about is a low, non-toxic and non-corrosive 6%, the same as you can buy in the chemist for bleaching your hair – though the way we use it makes it way more potent.

It’s therefore a good idea to vacate any room being treated – though it’s environmentally friendy, the stuff can cause irritation to the eyes and throat.

Why ionise? Because that enables a very mild solution, AND changes a mild and harmless solution into a super-performing giant.

Plasma performance

Remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas?

Well, ionising a dry mist of hydrogen peroxide metamorphoses it to a fourth state – from a gas to a plasma. This charges it electrostatically, so that all the particles physically repel each other – they spread actively in all directions, forcing themselves to fill the airspace, hard up against every surface, and deep into every crack and crevice. Complete and penetrating dispersal everywhere.

The change to a plasma also releases MORE antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

The negatively charged hydrogen particles reach out and grab positively charged viruses and bacteria like a magnet grabs iron filings. Locked together, contact time needs only to be a few seconds and the deed is done. ALL viruses and bacteria are destroyed to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Uh huh. You’ve taken precautions to protect yourself, the hydrogen peroxide protects your surroundings – the room you’re in is now completely sterile. All with just one button push on a Hypersteriliser machine.

Essential?

Rescued, safe, healthy

Hang on to your hat, because it’s going to be. Already the medical heavies reckon we could be only months away from total antibiotics failure.

Except we’re ahead of the game, right? Forewarned is fore-armed.

So no, we’re not dead yet. We’re going to get clean away with it.

Picture Copyright: choreograph / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-18 16:37:45.

Yes, total room sterilising can always be safe

Positive doctors
No germs, no smells, no headaches, no problem!

Yes, be safe.

Because this is one of those “not any more” stories.

Not any more the nasties, not any more the miseries.

Because not so long ago, getting rid of germs was more like getting rid of you.

No more schlep

It took hard scrubbing to get the place clean. With stuff so strong it took the top of your head off. Your eyes ran. You coughed and sneezed. Plus your back ached, your fingers were rubbed raw, exactly as if the germs had got you.

Yeah, well that’s what slaving away with bleach will do. And the place always smells terrible afterwards. Headaches, itchy skin – we’ve all been there.

OK, so the wise guys decided to fog the place up. You still had to scrub, but the germ-killer was spread through the air, hopefully reaching everywhere – especially all those hidey-holes no-one could reach.

Trouble was, that stuff was potent too. Toxic de luxe.

Doing your head in

Have you ever smelt aerosolised formaldehyde? Or those quaternary ammonium compounds? Which is why the CDC recommend not to use them.

Not just yuck. You’d die too, if you were a germ.

Except they don’t, do they? Germs, that is. Not in serious enough numbers at least. The place just stinks and there’s still the risk of infection. But that was back then.

Next thing they tried was ethylene oxide – EtO to the initiated. It killed germs better but was way too potent. A bit too toxic too. Still made you think your head was going to burst.

Hi, hydrogen peroxide

Then somebody had a brainwave and chose hydrogen peroxide – high powered, a known oxidiser, decomposed to just oxygen and water afterwards – what was not to like?

Too watery was the first part. It needed special dryers to get rid of the damp. Which made it dodgy with electrical stuff and computers. Short circuits and things. Risky.

Still too strong was the second part. Sure you can buy hydrogen peroxide at the chemist in a 3% solution. Safe to use at home. But way too weak to spray into the air and clobber nasties like clostridium difficile or MRSA. To do that, you had to rack it way up – 32% and even higher.

Back to the watering eyes and sore throat. And a bit more than that.

Did we mention strong oxidising properties? Because at 32% it’s a bit iffy – strong enough to eat plastic and chew certain metals, a bit too enthusiastic on all kinds of surfaces – especially with repeat treatments.

Ah, but that’s vaporised hydrogen peroxide. Mixed with water and sprayed as thin as possible. That’s why the 32%. Spread out into little tiny droplets it needs all that oomph to be sure of clobbering the germs. And it certainly does that – all viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing.

Except 32% is way too hazardous for general use. It needs specially trained staff, work areas have to be evacuated, and everybody needs to wear protective clothing.

Hello, ionised alternative

The revolution is ionised hydrogen peroxide. A safe process that makes it way more effective. And allows it to be milder – only a 6% solution instead of 32%, same as you can buy in Boots for doing your hair. Remember peroxide blondes?

There’s two ways to ionise the stuff – heat or electricity.

Heat is preferred because it is cheaper. All them hydrogen peroxide atoms get hot under the collar until they develop a charge, usually negative – which makes them reach out and grab at pathogens, usually positively charged, like iron filings to a magnet.

Electricity is the clever alternative – and it also means low temperature operation, no risk of melting anything the stuff come in contact with.

At the sprayer nozzle a great fat electric arc charges the parting atoms, forcing them to spread apart from each other because like charges repel. This means the hydrogen peroxide actively spreads itself out and away, reaching deep into cracks and crevices trying to escape from itself. Positively forced dispersal unlike of the vaporised stuff, which just billows like steam.

This spreadability means the droplets can be smaller, finer and ride the air better – especially with the lighter load of the 6% solution. Drier too. No moisture to mess up keyboards or cabling. And of course, too mild to attack surfaces, even sensitive ones.

No compromise on performance though. Ionising physically changes the state of the hydrogen peroxide from a gaseous vapour to a plasma – a charged gas. The effect is like hitting the turbo button. Even more antimicrobials are suddenly produced – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, super-oxidising ozone and ultraviolet – all of them potent germ-busters. 6% running on steroids.

Souped up performance

A word of caution though. Yes, it’s safe. But this IS hydrogen peroxide and it IS potent, unless you’re wearing protection, stay away. Hoicked up with radicals and stuff, its oxidising strength is way more than the 32% version.

OK, so ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads better, uses a weaker solution, kills germs more effectively, is drier and gentler to surfaces, and still becomes harmless after action, reverting back to just oxygen and water – so little water that it evaporates before it touches anything.

Easy, huh?

And push button simple with a Hypersteriliser. Just wheel the thing in, connect to power, press the button, and get out of Dodge. Allow forty odd minutes for the average-sized room  and the place is totally sterile – Log 6 kill to be precise, 99.9999% of germs utterly gone.

So now you’re safe. From germs, from nasty smells, from carry-over effects.

Totally sterile, yeah!

Picture Copyright: justmeyo / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-11 16:53:57.

Ooh! Fatness is catching? How can we ever escape?

Beautiful girl running
ANYTHING can be catching – if you’re not specially careful

Oops. For the first time, researchers suspicion that fatness can hit you, just like catching a bug.

Until now, getting fat happened only to individuals, one at a time.

Obesity beckons

Something upsets the balance of our gut bacteria – and our hunger control goes wild. Without even being aware of it, we start gorging ourselves compulsively. We’re on the slippery slope.

Villain of the piece is usually antibiotics. The Doc prescribes them when we’re ill and they go to work, killing the bacteria that causes it.

Trouble is, they kill a lot of good bacteria too – like the ones that keep us fit and trim. With nothing to stop us getting fat, we bulk up incredibly fast – Size 16 in weeks.

Farmers use exactly this method to fatten up animals and make them grow faster. Which is why antibiotics are used on the farm in massive amounts worldwide – anywhere between 65,000 – 240,000 tonnes a year and rocketing.

Which means there’s antibiotics in the food we eat too, explaining why so many of us are tending to fat. Two thirds of us are already overweight or obese – an epidemic that is slowly killing us, nudging us steadily towards diabetes, heart disease and cancer – all consequences of being fat.

Come clean, stay slim

But overnight, these latest findings bring a new urgency to cleanliness and personal hygiene.

Because they show that one third of the bacteria in our gut can produce spores, kind of like dormant seeds. The bacteria can’t exist outside our bodies, oxygen will kill them. But the spores can.

And being able to survive, these spores are free to disperse and float around all over the place. Released in our poo, coughed up or breathed out – for any other one of us to pick up by touch, swallowing or breathing in – just like any regular germs, which is of course exactly what they are.

Zap, and it happens.

Unless we all keep ourselves scrupulously clean and wash our hands every opportunity we get, these spores can relocate easily. From healthy person to healthy person – or from fat person to thin – transferring the same hunger control defects to our own good bacteria. With the same results.

Our bodies no longer know when we’ve had enough – inevitably, we get fat.

OK, so we can’t go around not breathing or eating anything for fear we’ll take spores in. The world is too big, plus there’s other stuff out there– airborne exhaust fumes, smoke, dust, germs and the very oxygen we breathe.

Obesity protection

Ah, but we can protect ourselves INDOORS – which, because of the cold and our chosen lifestyles, is where we spend 90% of our time.

All we need is to keep our hands clean – and treat the air around us with hydrogen peroxide mist so that all germs are oxidised to nothing.

Not ordinary hydrogen peroxide mind, but ionised.

Charged through with electrical energy that changes the mist to a plasma, releasing additional antimicrobials like hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. More than a match for any microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores.

Yes, it can be done – and yes, the technology exists now.

So there’s no reason why your home or workplace, or any other enclosed surroundings, cannot be kept sterile – safe from fatness or any other kind of microbial threat, from day-to-day contamination or transferred from anyone you might share your space with.

It’s up to you though to eat sensibly and exercise.

Look after your bacteria and they will look after you.

Picture Copyright: aleshyn / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-05 12:21:43.

Why most deep cleans are not as deep as you think

Sceptical businesswoman
Shouldn’t a deep clean sterilise a room AND the air that’s in it?

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Deep clean.

Definitely the thing for emergencies and beginning-of-project preparations. To make things safe and free from risk of infection. More high-powered than a regular wash down.

Somehow you imagine that scrubbing is longer and harder. That everything is stripped to its bare bones, then reassembled. That super octane chemicals are involved – face mask and breathing apparatus territory, you can just see the stuff fuming off the walls.

If only

Back to earth, spaceman.

Yes, most deep cleans involve more rubbing and scrubbing, but not a hell of a lot else. They may also include more areas – high contact surfaces like door handles, keypads and remote controls – in addition to the usual worktops and floors.

The big expectation of course is that they do more than remove dirt. The whole purpose of the exercise is to kill germs – not just clean, but safe. Two jobs at once, wipe away the visible dirt, clobber the nasty microbes.

Yeah, right.

Time to actually work

Ask yourself one question. What’s the contact time?

Removing dirt is a physical thing – wipe, wipe, it’s visibly gone. Not the same with germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, moulds – they all know how to hang on. They’re too small to see anyway, so it’s impossible to know if they’re there.

Count on it, they are. And they’re only going to get clobbered if the active whatever in the miracle gop being used has sufficient time to do its job. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am is not going to crack it.

So if the job looks like it’s just wipe, wipe, finish, you can bet that germs have hardly been touched. Just because you can smell bleach doesn’t mean it’s doing anything. It needs a contact time of at least ten minutes before anything happens – and that depends on how concentrated it is too.

Yes, bleach makes your eyes water and rips the top of your head off, but as a germ-killer it’s a medium-weight also-ran. And ten minutes with even half a bottle of the stuff dumped in a bucket of water is still nowhere near enough.

Worse in fact, because the bleach kills some of the germs but not all of them. And bacteria particularly are masters at survival. The stronger ones that don’t die off keep multiplying as bacteria always do.

Twenty minutes and there’s a whole new bleach-resistant variety on the go – accelerating madly if where they are is warm and damp – like a countertop in a centrally-heated kitchen, briskly wiped down with a moist rag.

Not good enough.

Demand more

Which means shifting to a more high-powered kind of germ-killer – glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, ortho-phthalaldehyde, peracetic acid or hydrogen peroxide – most of which drop the necessary contact time down to 30 seconds – again depending on strength and method of application.

Problem right there. Formaldehyde is regulated as a carcinogen and banned across the European Union. Glutaraldehyde is highly toxic and unstable in storage. Ortho-phthalaldehyde (OPA) stains the skin. And peracetic acid corrodes brass, copper, steel and iron.

Which leaves hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that our own bodies produce naturally to fight infection. It attacks viruses and bacteria by oxidising them, reverting back to small quantities of harmless oxygen and water.

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Antimicrobial air force

Quite literally if the stuff is sprayed into the air after physical scrubbing of worktops, floors and other surfaces has already removed physical dirt. Because the expectation of a deep clean is not just that it disinfects all surfaces, it ought to STERILISE THE ROOM.

And doing the surfaces is only part of the job – pretty well 80% of any room is the air space we move around in. Never touched by ordinary cleaning methods, but alive with all kinds of unseen material – dust, fluff, the air we breathe – and billions and billions of viruses and bacteria.

Which makes treating the air the main part of the job – exactly what airborne hydrogen peroxide does.

It gets even better. If the hydrogen peroxide is ionised – charged with high voltage electricity as it’s dispersed – it changes state from a gas vapour to a plasma, forcing its individual particles away from each other and actively grabbing at airborne viruses and bacteria as it does so.

Becoming a plasma unlocks other high-powered antimicrobials too – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. Allowing forty minutes for effective dispersal and proper contact time across the entire space, ALL of them are dead down to less than one in a million – 99.9999% destroyed. Or as the medics prefer to put it, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Sound like a proper deep clean to you?

OK, now you just need a Hypersteriliser to achieve it – a small but nifty wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that makes total room sterility as easy as pie. If your cleaning service isn’t using one, better jump up and down until they do.

Deep clean means NO MORE GERMS, not just scratching the surface.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-03-11 14:28:20.

Norovirus: why frantic $40K cleanup could still come unstuck

Anxious businesswoman
It’s not just the cost, norovirus can kill a business reputation stone-cold dead

You don’t take chances with norovirus.

Very unpleasant – and very bad for business – it has a boomerang property that keeps it coming back and back, whatever anyone does.

Boomerang in Kansas?

Which may soon be the experience of the popular New Theatre Restaurant in Kansas City. With 400 people down with norovirus last week, but determined to stay open, they’ve had hit-teams spray the place with a “Lysol-like” disinfectant – the same kind of stuff used on cruise liners – and boldly kept on going. Comedy performances of Out of Order starring Gary Sandy of WKRP in Cincinnati fame are to continue uninterrupted.

Let’s hope they’re not too hasty.

Norovirus is a nasty not to be wished on anyone. Cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea – up to four days and more, feeling like the end of the world.

Violent and explosive vomiting is one reason why a Lysol-type spray (similar to Dettol aerosol) may not be enough. It’s one of the ways the virus ensures it spreads as wide as possible. You’re not just being sick, you’re rocketing out your guts further and farther than with any other upchuck.

So if that spray doesn’t reach into every little nook and cranny, norovirus can be back in full raging force just hours later.

Virulent and vindictive

Norovirus is more contagious than other viruses too – 1,000 times more potent than everyday winter flu. All it takes is 10 tiny particles (around 2 microns in size) to become infected – and one particle can contain 100,000,000,000 particles.

But that’s not the only reason New Theatre Restaurant might still be in trouble. The spray they’ve used is water-based, hose-piping around trying to cover all areas. It’s potency is 99.9% effective – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 3.

Not really good enough.

Water-based vapour starts falling to the floor as soon as it’s dispersed. It never reaches ceilings or walls, the water drops are too heavy. And with a potency of just 10 particles needed to start an infection, 99.9% efficiency might work for an hour or two – then it’s back to square one.

Meanwhile, the super-light particles of norovirus float easily around on the smallest wafts of air – smaller and lighter than the molecules around them – lighter than nitrogen and hydrogen (once used to lift airships), tinier than dust, wispier than smoke, so almost nothing they may never fall to the floor, ever.

Yeah, it infects on contact – but how do you think it spreads?

Plus, there’s the boomerang effect.

Repeat performances

Get rid of norovirus – or think you do – and it’s back, with interest in days. Again and again and again.

Check out the sad story of Fred Olsen Line’s cruise liner Amsterdam in 2002.

FOUR times the ship sailed from Port Canaveral, Florida, with a load of happy, expectant holiday passengers. FOUR times, the ship had to put back with outbreaks of norovirus. It got so bad that passengers on the later voyages were even warned before embarking!

Only when the ship was pulled from service and 600 workers took TEN DAYS to disinfect the ship under supervision of the CDC, was the boomerang cycle broken.

Imagine the cost – FOUR fully-loaded voyages with 1,300 passengers paying upwards of $1,200 each – TEN days of docking fees and port costs – plus labour for 600 workers, cleaning down to detail fomite objects like poker chips and bedside bibles – not much change out of 10 million.

Alongside that kind of money, New Theatre Restaurant’s 40 grand begins to look like chicken feed.

And was it the same Lysol-type spray that was so ineffective on Amsterdam? In which case look out future audiences of Out of Order – you may not be as safe as you think you are.

No more norovirus

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Norovirus might be potent – out of reach in the air, or hiding in cracks and crevices. But there IS a way to clobber it good – along with all other viruses and bacteria too – just by pressing a button.

The trick is to use a Hypersteriliser or a number of them. Called the Halo in the States, this minor miracle is a nifty portable machine about the size of a small wheelie-bin that sprays the air with hydrogen peroxide.

Not just any hydrogen peroxide either. It’s a 6% solution – the same strength you might use in a mouthwash/teeth whitener from the chemist – boosted with silver, the proven antiseptic treatment doctors used for burns and wounds before antibiotics were discovered.

It’s also ionised, so that as it mists the room or auditorium, the particles of hydrogen peroxide become charged, pushing dynamically to disperse away from each other. Spreading everywhere – hard up against walls and ceilings, deep into cracks and crevices – over, under and behind things where most clean-ups never even get considered.

Ionising actually changes the state of the hydrogen peroxide too. Already smaller and finer than water droplets – lighter than air like the viruses it preys on – the mist changes from a gas to a plasma, an electrostatically-charged cloud reaching out and grabbing at live bacteria and viruses, oxidising them to nothing.

A whole kit of extra antimicrobials help it do this – because ionising releases further hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet. Look carefully in a darkened room, and you may even see a faint purple glow.

Safe and sterile

An hour or so later and it’s all over. 99.9999% of germs are gone – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – and the hydrogen peroxide reverts back to just oxygen and water, in such small quantities that it evaporates to nothing.

Ain’t no norovirus boomeranging back after that treatment. Theatre-goers can enjoy their dinner and the show without a care in the world.

But let’s hope they’ve fixed it already.

Picture Copyright: natulrich / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-02-01 14:06:50.

Avoid norovirus or worse as flood waters drop

Rain girl
Just remember, germs are like raindrops but smaller – up in the air and all over the place until you get rid of them

Goodbye Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank.

You weren’t nice and we never liked you – good riddance.

Likewise storms yet to come – Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake and Katie.

We know you’re coming, but don’t expect us to roll out the welcome mat. You and the rest of your Named Storms mob have done enough damage already.

The long road back

So now it’s the heartache and the clear up. Putting your life back together.

But be careful.

There’s sickness in that water – and sickness where it’s been.

Up to your ankles in the kitchen, even more in the street. With the over-run sewer system four feet below that. Which means there’s poo in that water, nothing about it is safe. And as the level goes down, that yuck is going to be everywhere.

Be safe, don’t touch it, or risk getting it on your skin. Norovirus could be lurking there – or even worse, cholera. For sure, there’s nothing healthy.

So whatever you do, wash your hands if it gets on them – or if you’ve touched anything lying in it. Norovirus spreads on contact – and it only takes a dab. You don’t want that misery on top of everything else. Cramps, runs, upchucks – no thank you.

Wash your hands properly too, this stuff is pernicious. Find yourself some hot water – as hot as you can stand – and give yourself a good going over. Soap and scrubbing brush. Under your nails and between your fingers. Like you’ve got plague on them and you can’t take chances – which if you think about it, is true.

Proper hygiene is everything

And which of course means your place will need the same treatment.

After days of immersion in poo, sweeping out the mud and hosing everything down is not going to be good enough – not even with a turbo-wash. It’ll be in the wallpaper and the plaster – in the concrete and even the bricks. Going to have to be brutal.

It’ll be UNDER the floorboards too – in the crawl space around the foundations. By the time you get to it, a kind of sludgy, gooey gunge. Norovirus in there – and all other kinds of nasties. Squirt it out if you can, possibly forcing it out through the air bricks. You don’t want the drama of ripping everything up to get rid of it.

Yes, it’s a health hazard, but if you can get rid of most of it, it’s possible to neutralise the rest with hydrogen peroxide or some other oxidising steriliser.

Misting up the under-floor gap with a Hypersteriliser is a good choice – any airborne germs will be clobbered immediately and the stuff is good at forcing itself into difficult nooks and crannies. Any viruses or bacteria it comes in contact with will be dead in around 40 minutes.

Likewise any mould. The hydrogen peroxide won’t physically get rid of it, but it will kill it dead – you can tell in two ways. It won’t be that horrible black any more, but a pale grey. And whatever smell there might be – if it’s anything organic – will have disappeared.

That hydrogen peroxide mist will work well in the rest of the house too – especially at getting rid of the smell. But remember it’s only a vapour – actually a super-vapour called a plasma, which is why it’s so effective. But it won’t physically clean or scrub, so any smells could come back when the stuff wears off after a week or so.

It pays to be thorough

To do the job properly, you’ve got to chuck away all the carpets, lino, wallpaper and plaster so you can scrub down with disinfectant right to the bare walls and floor. Your place won’t look pretty, but at least it will be safe. Mist it up again with hydrogen peroxide and chances are good any smell is gone permanently.

The no-smell thing is important, because that means any microbial action has been stopped – there are no more germs breeding in there to come and get you. If the smells come back it either means you missed a bit and the germs break through when the hydrogen peroxide wears off – or the place isn’t fully dry and mould is reforming. Another mist-up will give you a quick fix, but the real answer is to get down and dirty all over again – this time, with a more eagle eye.

Look after yourself while you do all this, because don’t forget you ARE exposing yourself to germs – and nasties like norovirus are airborne as well coating everything, so you could by mischance breathe some in. To be really safe, Public Health England have this excellent guide – useful and easy step-by-step stuff anyone can follow.

There, all done – and well done you. A real schlep, but you don’t want anyone coming down with anything serious on top of all the other setbacks.

Welcome back to the land of the living.

Originally posted 2016-01-07 16:22:45.

Workplace germs: a loaded gun on every desk

Gun
Invisible – and make no mistake – deadly

Try this, right now.

Lift your keyboard and look underneath. Pretty yuck, huh?

Everyday killer

Where did all that come from? How long has it been there? What kind of germs might be living in it? Are you safe?

The short answer is, that’s all you – and ANY germs can make you sick if you’re unlucky.

The usual bad boys are flu and norovirus – the most potent, meaning they’re easiest to catch. And the most common – ready to bring you down over and over again, several times a year.

Oh yeah. And just so you know, flu kills around 14,500 people a year – most of them elderly, but you only need one complication to be included in that number.

Norovirus is even easier to catch (20 particles is all it takes) and makes you wish you were dead – those cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea are the end of the world. If it’s bad, dehydration sets in – and if that goes pear-shaped too, it’s curtains. Around 80 people die from it every year, but diarrhoea can do that all by itself.

Norovirus is a major cause of gastroenteritis world wide, alongside the main villain, the salmonella family of 2,500 bugs. Both are usually to be found on your desk along with campylobacter – another family of horribles, escherichia coli, the shigella tribe of nasties, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus cereus and clostridium perfringens.

Invisible health hazard

That gun is loaded alright – and pointing straight at you.

So how come your desk is so dangerous – up to 400 times more bugged than a toilet seat?

Ah, but we know the toilet is a hazardous place for germs – so the facilities management people are in there like clockwork, cleaning and scrubbing several times a day, sometimes even once an hour.

But they don’t come anywhere near your desk, do they? Never anything more than a quick wipe – with the same cloth that does all the desks. All that confidential stuff, projects on the go – don’t touch or else.

Plus you eat there too – like nearly two-thirds of us do.

Which is where all those crumbs and dust particles come from – last week’s fish and chips, smears of dressing from yesterday’s salad because you were on a health kick, today’s pizza. All over the desk, too small to see – under the keyboard is just where they collect most easily, behind the screen too.

Now try this.

It only takes twenty minutes or so for bacteria reproduce itself. So after a couple of days that germ population has doubled. After a week or so, it’s doubled several times over.

One touch and all kinds of things transfer to your hands – which then touch your face, your eyes, your mouth, because so many of us rest our chin in our hand when we work. Infection by fomites.

Inevitable illness

Sooner or later you’re going to get it, even if you’re meticulous about washing your hands. And you really don’t want to know how bad we are about forgetting to do that – let alone how to do it properly.

There’s more germs in the air too, stirred up by us moving around. Also brought in by each of us as part of our personal germ-cloud.

We can’t see these either, but we all have a constant aura around us of billions and billions more bacteria, some good, some bad – neutral to us maybe, but a possible health risk to our colleagues with different sensitivities and immunities. Even if we’re well, we can make them sick.

And that doesn’t include the have-a-go heroes among us who drag themselves into work when they ARE sick – driven by pressure of work, or job anxiety, or simply unable to stay away. Gone to work with illness, ready to infect us all.

Looks like there’s more than one gun pointing at us.

Time to get bullet-proof. Strike back at these germs before they get us.

And there’s only one way.

Fight back

A mop and bucket won’t crack it, especially with all those computers around. It won’t touch the air either, 80% of any room space, where most of the germs are.

It has to be a Hypersteriliser.

Never heard of it? Get ready to kiss sickies goodbye. You might even be able to bundle your sick leave together with your holidays. Take a month off Pingsonbury, you’ve earned it.

The thing looks like a posh wheelie-bin with a nozzle and lights on it, ready to spray the room with hydrogen peroxide – one of the most effective germ-killers there is.

Posh is right, the thing is state of the art. Because it ionises the hydrogen peroxide as it sprays – changing it from an ordinary vapour into a plasma – boosting its performance by releasing hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Give it forty minutes, and the room is totally sterile. No viruses or bacteria, all gone – even on your desk.

Yeah, the dirt and crumbs and dust bunnies are still there – you’ll have to swab those off yourself – with the wipes you keep around so your hands are always clean.

But now there’s no gun – and anyway the bullets are unloaded. You’re safe and so are your colleagues. Breath easy.

Now all you have to worry about are those lunatic drivers on the roads.

Originally posted 2015-11-27 14:44:59.

How we’ll survive now antibiotics don’t work

Doctor washing
No more pills – from now on, everything gets done the hard way

Scary stuff this.

No safety net. Like driving on bald tyres.

Any accident, any surgery, any infection, any fever – we’re on our own. Either our immune systems will handle it, or they won’t. Game over.

End of the line

Because now there’s no more failsafe. No last second backup. Real Friday 13th.

No more silly buggers, the Doc can’t save you if your misadventure goes pear-shaped. The cupboard is empty.

Don’t believe it?

Already we’ve got MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – the scourge of every hospital and big bogey of AMR – antimicrobial resistance. This superbug lives naturally in your nose, for goodness sake.

Wipe your face, then touch a cut – and you’re up a gum tree.

Because methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin – take any of them and the bug might get even stronger.

And MRSA is just one of our regular 9-to-5 infections. Other AMR stars appearing daily include salmonella, streptococcus, c.difficile, TB, gonorrhoea and e.coli. All of them can kill if we’re not careful – and that doesn’t include the heavy brigade like botulism or cholera.

Over-use and abuse

How did these bacteria get so smart?

Well, we’ve been chucking antibiotics at them on an industrial scale for more than 50 years – plenty of time to learn.

Sure thing, a lot of that is in medicine – we’re a growing cult of pill-poppers. These days the average teenager might be on a course of antibiotics say, five times a year.

Hypochondriac grown-ups are worse – or should that be “cyberchondriacs?” The Internet breeds self-diagnosing adults who demand antibiotics so strongly, there’s doctors and chemists who fear for life and limb.

But agriculture is the real villain. 65,000 tons a year and more to bulk up animals for market – beef, pork, mutton, poultry – right across the board. It’s in plants too –from “natural” recycled animal waste. Over-use big time.

Which also means like it or not – carnivore or vegetarian – we’re all on antibiotics already, absorbed through the food chain. And have been ALL OUR LIVES.

Always read the label, remember? Do not take continuously for more than ten days without consulting a physician.

What the heck, we’ve OD’d all our lives!

Living mutations

No wonder our metabolisms are so different from our grandparents’ – weaker, less resilient, more prone to allergies and minor ailments, ballooning to obesity. Our internal bacteria have mutated so much, we’re hardly the same kind of human beings.

Because if it takes only twenty minutes for a bacterium to adapt and evolve to a new generation, that’s around 438,000 mutations learning how to survive antibiotics since they were first used – they should have got it right by now.

So yeah, antibiotics don’t work any more. And since we’re surrounded by billions and billions of bacteria every second – even colonised inside by over 100 trillion – washing our hands is a start.

Wash ’em off so we don’t infect cuts or swallow anything nasty. Wash, wash, wash.

The sloppy hygiene factor

But there’s a problem, and it’s us.

We touch everything everywhere without thinking of these bacteria. From one second to the next, we never think we’re contaminated. Our hands LOOK clean, so we don’t bother.

Sure, we used to get away with it – the Doc back-stopping us with a load of wonder-drugs. But not any more.

So we’re already in big trouble. From our own sloppy hygiene.

It’s not just hands either. Bacteria are everywhere. On everything, under and behind everything, even inside us. And of course, floating through the air – lighter than smoke or specks of dust – swirling, trailing, riding the smallest breeze, all the way up to 30,000 – higher than Everest.

So as soon as our clean hands touch something, they’re contaminated again.

Repeat and repeat

Which means we’ve got to clean the things we touch. And KEEP CLEANING THEM – because the bacteria keep coming back. Wash, wipe, scrub, it’s a never-ending mission.

Even then, it’s not even half the job. Around 80% of any room we live in is air space to move around in – and there’s no wash, wipe, scrubbing answer for that.

We’re at hazard from each other’s bacteria too – because we’re not all the same. Most of us have weaknesses of some kind or other. So our personal biome – the trailing cloud of bacteria unique to each of us – is trapped and mingles in the air of our work space with everybody else’s.

Just by being together we can infect each other.

Unless of course, the whole place is misted up with a Hypersteriliser, oxidising all germs to nothing with hydrogen peroxide.

Not vaporised hydrogen peroxide either – too strong for safety and making everything wet.

Press the button when everybody’s gone for the night, and the mild 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide is IONISED from a microscopic spray into an electrically-charged gas plasma – a super-performing change of state that  releases even more antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone, and ultraviolet – every particle alive with energy to disperse everywhere and grab pathogens as they fly.

Forty minutes and the place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria. Zero germs. Every surface safe. The air totally bio-neutral.

Safe till next time

Of course it starts all over again next morning.

As we all breeze in for the day, each trailing our bio-cloud with us – hands alive with bacteria from the steering wheel, the door handle, the ticket machine, the lift button and the loo seat. Er yes, but soap and water fixes most of that.

Wash, wash, wash – it’s our latest antibiotic – which in case you were wondering means “inhibits the growth of, or destroys, microorganisms.”

Phew! We made it.

Never mind that those antibio-whatsits don’t work any more. We know how to be safe.

Enjoy your day.

Originally posted 2015-11-13 13:29:00.

If you could see germs, you’d be scared too

Doctor with microscope
More deadly than any terrorist threat – and they’re all around us

Doctors are scared.

They don’t show it because they’re too professional.

But they know and they’re scared. That deep-down gut-twisting fear that things are wrong.

It’s about antibiotics.

Antibiotics and germs.

Once upon a time antibiotics were thought to fix just about anything. Not viruses of course, they’re physically even more difficult. But certainly bacteria. Any risk of infection, bung in antibiotics – the miracle drugs that have made modern medicine the wonder that it is.

Alarm bells ringing

Trouble is, antibiotics are beginning not to work any more. The germs are winning.

Which means any kind of routine surgery – from gallstone removal to a simple bypass – is no longer as safe as it was. Infection is less easy to control. Complications are more likely to set in. Pretty well the only thing between success and disaster is the level of hygiene.

Exactly why doctors are hearing alarm bells.

Because there’s one massive difference between a surgical incision protected by antibiotics – and one not protected at all.

At all? Surely not.

Better believe it. Look at the lengths medics go to in isolating dread diseases. Hazmat clothing for all personnel. Isolation tent with built-in sleeves and gloves for patient care without touching. Like Ebola tents – we’ve all seen the pictures in the media. Just imagine if EVERY case was like this.

Because if antibiotics don’t work, they already are.

Staph infections, TB, c.difficile, gonorrhoea, e.coli – they’re all immune and have-a-go – often present but inactive in our own bodies. Waiting for just one opening, one simple little cut…

External germs are an even bigger headache. They’re everywhere, on every surface, swirling and teeming in the air.

See for yourself

Want a demonstration? Grab a handful of glitter and throw it in the air. Better still, throw it in front of a fan, because all microbes can float on the slightest breeze.

The stuff goes everywhere, right? On your clothes, in your hair, all over your face. And see how difficult it is to wash off. See how it keeps twisting and fluttering in the air – be a couple of hours before that’s finished settling.

But at least you can SEE glitter. Germs are smaller and you can’t see them at all. But they’re there alright – like there’s already 6 billion right inside your own mouth.

OK, maybe glitter is a bit radical – but at least it shows how difficult the problem is.

A better example is Glo Germ, a harmless liquid or powder of fake germs – invisible and no more than 5 microns across, exactly like real. Like germs, it spreads all over the place and can’t be seen.

Not in the air unfortunately, but certainly on surfaces like food preparation areas – a tell-tale to show when areas HAVE NOT been cleaned effectively.

Shine an ultraviolet light on the treated area and uncleaned parts immediately show up – like TV’s fancy CSI-goo for detecting blood stains.

Hey Fred, this thing’s filthy – watch your six, or you’re gonna get it!

Yeah, OK. So our antibiotics have packed up and there’s billions of germs around that we can’t see. Should we give up and cry?

Start with soap and water

Not unless you want to be dead – which is what germs do, given half a chance – make you dead. The bad ones that is – inside every one of us, there’s more than 100 trillion good bacteria of our own.

Which means the best thing is show bad germs where to get off. With soap and water for example – washing our hands at least before and after every meal – and very definitely going to the loo.

Of course doctors and nurses do this already, scrubbing up before every procedure. They know the odds – and nobody wants to lose a patient on THEIR watch.

They’re still scared.

Washing hands, sterilising instruments, swabbing everything down – none of it gets rid of microorganisms in the air. And gut-feel tells the Docs those germs are up there. ALL germs are airborne, it’s a physical impossibility that they’re not. At 5 microns across or less, that’s 100th the size of coffee fumes!

Only one thing for it. Some kind of spray to take out the airborne jobs. If they can fumigate a whole house for insects, then surely they can do the same thing for superbugs.

Hello, hydrogen peroxide

Very definitely yes. And nowhere near as toxic.

The spray is hydrogen peroxide, exactly the same as the body produces for its own germ-fighting – in a mild 6% solution – the same as you might use as for minor cuts and abrasions, or as a mouth wash.

Underpowered? Not a bit of it. Hydrogen peroxide kills germs by oxidising them – shoving oxygen atoms at them that tear apart their cell structure. There’s no germs coming back from that.

Plus, because it’s ionised as it’s sprayed, the hydrogen peroxide is cranked up to warp speed as it leaves its Hypersteriliser dispenser – a slick, handy unit about the size of a small wheelie-bin.

Remember your states of matter? Solid, liquid, gas, right?

Well ionising a gas, which is what vaporised hydrogen peroxide is, changes its state again. From a gas to a plasma – a kind of supergas in which all the molecules are charged.

And which releases a whole slew of other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Germs to oblivion

Yeah, World War Three in microcosm. But it still takes time to happen. The hydrogen peroxide has to disperse and fill the room space – a rapid action because the molecules all carry the same charge.

They are actively and desperately trying to get away from each other. Which forces the plasma through the air, equally in all directions – fetching hard up against all surfaces, including walls and ceilings – and pushing deep into every crack and crevice, exactly the places wipe-down disinfecting cannot reach.

Filling the air and making sure the stuff works takes around 40 minutes for the average room. After that, the place is sterile. No germs, no bacteria – just oxygen and water which evaporates before it touches anything.

OK, doctors are still scared. There’s still no replacement to do what antibiotics do.

But at least they’re not terrified.

Originally posted 2015-10-29 18:41:36.

Whoops, Dame Sally – antibiotics don’t work, but clean hands aren’t good enough either

Doctor with antibiotics
OK, what are you going to do when the pills don’t work?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – we hear you.

The hand hygiene brigade are always banging on about it. Wash your hands, wash your hands.

And you, Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer – you quite rightly push it further.

Wash your hands or die

Rediscover hygiene, you say. It’s a hidden truth that antibiotics don’t work any more. Superbugs have mutated to become resistant. All major surgery is under threat. It’s back to the Dark Ages – and in our only defence, if we don’t all remember to wash our hands, we’re going to die.

Dead right, Dame Sally (pun intended) – but nowhere near enough.

Clean hands might make a difference in the first microsecond – then we’re right back where we started.

Because it’s not just our hands we have to worry about. It’s everything around us.

Beyond medical

You see, as a high-powered doctor, Dame Sally is thinking in a medical sense.

Yes, she applies her principles to everyday life – to the way we behave, particularly after going to the loo. But her head is thinking hospitals and patients and operations and sterile surroundings.

Wash your hands. Yeah, well doctors and nurses do that already. It’s an ingrained way of life.

It’s the outsiders who don’t. The hospital visitors – and the great wide world beyond the front door.

And even if they did, it would never be enough. Because nothing out there is sterile.

Clean? Well, maybe.

An invisible truth

We judge clean by appearances – and all too often what we think is clean is actually loaded with germs. Looks are deceptive – which is probably why we never wash our hands enough. If they’re not visibly dirty, we reckon they’re OK.

Which means it’s an invisible truth that they’re not. Germs are so infinitesimally small, we have no idea that they’re there.

So if it’s not a sterilised area in a hospital, the very first object hands touch after washing will put billions of germs back again. Your phone, your car keys, money, the door handle to the coffee shop.

Give it five minutes and both hands will be back to normal – 10 million bacteria on each.

Wash our hands, Dame Sally? It can never be enough unless we wash our surroundings too. And not just wash for appearances – wash, scrub, disinfect, whatever, until the germs are gone.

And no, we don’t really do that at the moment. We just think we do.

Everyday germs

Take ordinary household washing up. And let’s refer here to another hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley. Millions of us do it, yet it’s a hazard highpoint of our lives – basically dipping our eating utensils into a germ soup, then spreading the germs evenly with a wiping-up cloth.

No, LOOKS clean isn’t clean – and certainly not safe from germs.

Nor is it either good enough to blitz the place with bleach and carbolic – scrubbing everything down to within an inch of its life.

Apart from the smell that could rip your head off, it never reaches right into all the dark corners. And most of the time we never remember to do UNDER surfaces or BEHIND them. Exactly the places that germs naturally gather.

It gets worse on your office desk. Because how often does that get done properly – if ever?

Nine times out of ten, a wipe-down from the night crew is the only lick and promise it ever gets. Promise of germs, that is. Because the same cloth gets used for every desk. Contact time is only seconds – and what kind of antibacterial stuff has it got on there anyway?

Looks clean, but isn’t.

Yet that’s where most of us eat lunch – with fingers that we THINK are clean – dropping crumbs, spilling sauces and getting our greasy paws over everything. Especially on that main germ transfer unit, the computer keyboard – press ENTER to guarantee collywobbles.

Yeah, no wonder we keep running to antibiotics. We take such chances with things we can’t see, a pill is our only rescue.

Kinda basic though, really – it’s way better to avoid germs in the first place.

But if washing hands isn’t enough – and even SAVAGE cleaning doesn’t crack it – what else can we do?

Especially when it’s not just surfaces that our hands touch, it’s the air around us too. Air is 80% of the space in any room, yet we never think of cleaning it. Heat it, yes. Cool it, yes. Filter it, yes. Even dehumidify it.

But apart from the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters used in hospitals and aircraft, we never do anything to take the germs out. And there are more germs up there than anywhere else – at less than half the size of a molecule of oxygen, how could there not be?

More than hand washing

Yes, Dame Sally, we ARE washing our hands, we ARE being careful – but if our surroundings are always germ-covered, what can we do?

Yeah, well – get rid of the germs there too.

Not in the great outdoors of course – rain and wind would whip everything away in seconds – bringing new germs to replace the previous ones in the very same instant.

Ah, but we’re basically cave-dwellers, see. We huddle together in enclosed places – away from the wind and the rain, where the elements can’t get us.

And not the germs either, if we’re clever about it.

OK, this is the opposite end of looking after ourselves.

Hospital in reverse

Hospital is the back end – the last resort to rescue us from misadventure. Now we’re looking at the front end – not a doctor in sight, no antibiotics anywhere – a non-medical way of protecting ourselves from germs.

Easy, really. Room by room – enclosed space by enclosed space – we just get rid of them all.

Alright, fine. So what kills germs? And how do we take out the airborne ones – some kind of spray?

All kinds of things kill germs. Bleach, formaldehyde, ethanol, nitrous oxide – all pretty hazardous and not very safe – especially up in the air.

Way better is hydrogen peroxide – exactly like water, but with two oxygen atoms instead of one – H2O2. It’s even made by the body as a natural germ fighter – produced in the lungs, gut, and thyroid gland – and first responder to cuts and scratches, kicking in even before white blood cells arrive.

Same problem though, vaporised hydrogen peroxide has to be in a pretty strong solution (35%) to work in a spray. Hazardous to eyes, nose and throat – in molecule sizes too large to remain airborne for long. Very wet to use too, taking a long time to dry.

Ionised for effectiveness

The breakthrough is to use a weaker solution (6%) of hydrogen peroxide – allowing it to spread drier, finer and further – and ionising it on release to change its state from a gas to a plasma, an electrically charged super-vapour that disperses itself actively in all directions.

The charged plasma also releases further antimicrobials that reach out and destroy viruses and bacteria on the fly – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Close all the windows and doors, get everybody out of Dodge, put the machine in the room (it’s called a Hypersteriliser), press the button – and leave.

Forty minutes later, the whole place is sterile, safe for everybody to come back – with not a virus or bacterium to be found anywhere. No germs, no threats, no need for antibiotics.

Now, Dame Sally – doesn’t that answer your concern?

Originally posted 2015-10-20 14:07:27.