Monthly Archives: December 2011
Recycled Paper Towels Had the Highest Bacterial Counts
Dec. 28, 2011 — Grabbing a paper towel in a public restroom may leave more on your hands than you bargained for.
Researchers say they’ve found bacteria, including some that are known to make people sick, in unused paper towels. They also found that those bacteria could be transferred to hands after washing.
The study is published in the American Journal of Infection Control. It did not find any illnesses connected to paper towel use.
Experts say the findings are probably most important for people in hospital isolation units and those with weakened immune function who need to be extra cautious about contact with germs.
Germs Lurk in Paper Towels
Researchers at Laval University in Canada tested six brands of commercial paper towels — the kind doled out in many public bathrooms.
They found bacteria in all of them, but the towels made from recycled fibers were the most heavily contaminated.
“In our study, the concentration of bacteria in the recycled paper was between 100- to 1,000-fold higher than the virgin wood pulp brand,” the researchers write.
Bacterial slime is known to be a problem at recycled paper mills, where it corrodes machines and may damage finished paper sheets.
Researchers say the new paper towel finding fits with other studies that have noted high bacterial counts in other kinds of recycled paper products.
Bacteria may thrive in recycled paper because it contains binding ingredients like starches and fillers that serve as food.
Most of the bacteria found in paper towels were Bacillus bacteria. Many Bacillus strains can produce toxins that cause food poisoning.
Although the found amounts of B. cereus probably wouldn’t harm healthy people, researchers note it may be more dangerous for people who have weakened immune systems, like babies and the elderly, and for people who take medications that suppress their immune function.
Germ experts said the study was an eye-opener.
“These findings are interesting in that we do not think of paper towels as being contaminated,” says Elizabeth Scott, PhD, who is co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston.
Scott says the study also made her curious about bacteria in other kinds of paper products.
“It makes me wonder about kitchen towels. These are put to all kinds of uses in direct contact with food, for example, covering and wrapping food,” she says. “And what about facial tissues, which come into close contact with our eyes and noses?”
Advice for Consumers
Scott and other experts note that the study did not find paper towels caused anyone to get sick.
Until more is known, experts agree that this one study shouldn’t be a reason for healthy people to avoid paper towels.
“People shouldn’t think that it’s better not to wash their hands if they only have paper towels available to dry them,” says Angela Golden, DNP, who is president-elect of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
She says 20 seconds with soap and water is still the rule, especially after activities that dramatically increase exposure to germs, like handing raw meat.
Golden says air dryers, if they’re available, may be the healthiest and most environmentally responsible option of all.
SATURDAY Dec. 31, 2011 — If champagne is a part of your New Year’s Eve celebration, use care when you pop the cork or it could turn into a dangerous projectile that can cause serious eye damage, the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns.
When it leaves the bottle, a cork can reach speeds of up to 50 miles an hour and have enough force to shatter glass. This type of impact on an eye can cause acute glaucoma, detached retina and staining of the cornea, all of which can result in decreased vision.
“Champagne cork eye injuries can have a devastating impact on your vision,” Dr. Kuldev Singh, an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said in an academy news release.
“Many champagne cork-related eye injuries necessitate urgent surgery to prevent significant, permanent vision loss — a terrible way to spend the holidays. If you follow a few simple steps to properly open a bottle of champagne, you can keep your holidays enjoyable and safe,” Singh said.
Here are the AAO’s tips for safely opening a bottle of champagne, also called sparkling wine:
- Never use a corkscrew.
- Chill the bottle to at least 45 degrees F before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don’t shake the bottle. Doing so increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle.
- When opening the bottle, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and other people. Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal and continue holding the cork while twisting the bottle. Do this until the cork is almost out of the bottle’s neck. Use slight downward pressure to counter the force of the cork just as it breaks free from the bottle.
Prevent Blindness America has more about eye safety at home.
Posted: December 2011
Readers weigh the merits of jury nullification in response to an Op-Ed essay.
NYT > Marijuana and Medical Marijuana
ABC / 12,31,2011
A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court?s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.
?This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,? Jordan said today from his Waterford home. ?I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.?
He said he does not plan to take any further legal action.
Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.
Most Cops Just Above Normal The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.
Jordan alleged his rejection from the police force was discrimination. He sued the city, saying his civil rights were violated because he was denied equal protection under the law.
But the U.S. District Court found that New London had ?shown a rational basis for the policy.? In a ruling dated Aug. 23, the 2nd Circuit agreed. The court said the policy might be unwise but was a rational way to reduce job turnover.
Jordan has worked as a prison guard since he took the test.
This explains why they had Barney on the Andy Griffith show.:ns: