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December 17, 2010

Do you think we're too concerned about germs?

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17 December 2010

Wherever you go in public there are ways to self-sanitize, such as sanitary wipes to clean the handle of your shopping trolley, and we're bombarded by advertisements urging us to protect ourselves and our children from germs that you pick up from everywhere from playing in the mud outside to the flies that sneak into your home.

But I wonder sometimes how absolutely necessary this over-protection is?

When I was a kid, my sister and I would play for hours outside - making mudpies in the mud, climbing trees, walking through sand and puddles without our shoes on, playing with our pets - all these things would make the producers of those advertisements shudder with fear, I'm sure!

But we were hardly sick as children - my sister was born with asthma though.

What put me onto this train of thought was a recent design concept that makes door handles self-sterilising - because we all know how many germs such thoroughfares harbour, right? This door handle uses UV light to kill the germs.

I read an article the other day that spoke about how the number of diagnosed allergies has increased exponentially over the last decade or so. Could it be that protecting our bodies from germs to this extent might be harmful to us - to the point that we form allergies to a larger number of things? We're so concentrated on keeping away from germs that we don't allow our immune system to form any kind of defense against anything, let alone the flu.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that flu vaccines are known to make you sick - you have no immunity because your body is not exposed to germs, and when you get the vaccine, the "dormant" virus that they've injected into you finds nothing protecting you.

Are you afraid of germs?

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