Friday, May 28, 2010

Dr. Germ is quoted on office germs again...

Dr. Charles Gerba Ph.D is also known as "Dr. Germ". He has multiple studies (~400) published on everything from toilet germs to water distribution systems. 
He was quoted here in a piece on office health risk published online by Yahoo.  
Problem: "The desk, in terms of bacteria, is 400 times more dirty than your toilet," University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba told WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD -News). "People turn their desks into bacteria cafeterias because they eat at them, but they never clean them. The phone is the dirtiest, the desktop is next, and the mouse and the computer follow."
But bacteria problems at your desk could be more severe than Gerba thinks. Breadcrumbs and other food remnants get can get in between keys on your keyboard, attract rats and lead to unintended exposure to their germs. What's more, many raw and cooked foods need to remain refrigerated, and leaving them out for two hours or more is a food safety no-no.
Prevention: If you frequently eat your lunch at your desk, you may want to make sure you have hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to wipe down your work surface daily. That can also protect you from germs sprayed into the air by your coughing and sneezing coworkers.
If your office has a communal kitchen sink with a sponge, the American Dietetic Association suggests using paper towels instead, just to stay safe from bacteria.
The association goes as far as recommending that those who eat in the office bring a refrigerator thermometer and a meat thermometer as well.

Bottled water contains high levels of heterotrophic bacteria.

This was spotted by Gayle Leonard's thirsty in Suburbia blog. This was reported this week at the ASM meeting in San Diego. 

Canadian researchers have discovered that many popular brands of bottled water contain “surprisingly high” levels of heterotrophicbacteria! The researchers presented their study results at the general meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in San Diego on May 26.
According to their research, more than 70 percent of the popular brands of bottled water tested failed to meet standards.
The standards are set by the United States Pharmacopeia, the non-governmental agency responsible for setting safety standards for medications and health care products.
This sets the stage for many inquiries to the bottled water industry. Shouldn't it be safer than tap water? Why are they regulated by the US Pharmacopeia and not the USEPA?  Maybe we should ask how often they are regulated. The questions go on. View an interesting video on this topic here.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why US philanthropists should care about sanitation and water

John Sauer, Communications Director of  of Water Advocates  has this blog from the Huffington Post

This week was the the first High Level Meeting of Sanitation and Water for All, a global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water for all.  The activities this week included the release of the 2010 GLAAS report – the UN’s annual assessment of the sanitation and drinking water sector. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NPR: Drink bottled water?

Peter Gleik was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air. He discussed his new book bottled and sold, the story behind our obsession with bottled water.  Water wired has a review of the book here

Friday, May 14, 2010

WaTER Laboratory now open

The LLU School of Public Health now has the Water Treatment and Environmental Research (WaTER) laboratory. The WaTER laboratory has the capacity to investigate research questions of surface water quality, hygiene, sanitation, and water disinfection.  The laboratory is located on the first floor in the SW corner of Evans Hall on the Loma Linda University campus.  While this laboratory is under construction, the WaTER lab has relocated to the Shryock Hall.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A ban on plastic bags?

In the last two years, many counties, states, and municipalities have considered a ban on plastic grocery bags. Is this the best course of action?

The issue is becoming complex. Read this blog's report on how the battle is taking form.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Last Weekend's Hang Gliding

Averill Strasser from the NGO WaterCharity sponsored a tandem hang gliding flight for me with Rob from High Adventure.  I added on the training hill option and had a great weekend!  Here is a video of one of my training hill runs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Are you flushing your drinking water?

Gayle Leonard on her blog Thirsty in Suburbia posted this link about upgrading your water wasting toilets.

This will work for many americans who waste thousands of gallons of water each year with inefficient water wasting toilets.
Keep in mind that if you make heavier deposits to your toilet bank, you may want to do some independent research on the subject!  Most Americans have bowel movements of less than 200grams and their 1980's toilets handle Gayle's modification without any problem.

If you want to save the water and worry about flushing efficiency, there are several other options:

The ideal toilet would be one where you could have a separate flush for urine and a flush for the big BM. Home Depot and others sell them.

An even more aggressive approach are the urine separation toilets using disinfected urine for fertilizer.