Friday, August 25, 2017

Quick takes on three recent stories


The magazine Popular Science reported on a paper which found after 20 subjects washed their hands at water temperatures of 100, 80, and 60 degrees, the temperature had no impact on bacterial counts. They also found antibacterial soap was no better than plain soap and water.

What did matter was time—10 to 20 seconds of lathering was better than 5 seconds, and 40 seconds was no better than 10 or 20.

The authors concluded that hands should be washed in water that was most comfortable for the individual.

In a blog post from last year, I pointed out that washing hands for more than 40 seconds, as advocated by a paper in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, was impractical due to the excessive amount of time busy hospital staff would need to invest in doing so multiple times per day.

For example, 10 washes per hour at 40 seconds per wash is almost 7 minutes of hand washing times 8 hours equals 56 minutes.

Drivers who follow other drivers

The journal Frontiers in Psychology published a paper called “I’ll Show You the Way: Risky Driver Behavior When ‘Following a Friend.’” The authors, from the Human Systems Engineering department of Arizona State University, found that in order to keep up with the lead driver, drivers who don’t know the way took more chances when they followed someone.

The work was done by testing 16 college student subjects on a simulator. Drivers who followed were more likely to drive significantly faster, change lanes quicker, and in general “engage in riskier behaviors” than when listening to audible directions from a simulated GPS system.

The authors recommended that following another driver to a destination not be done. However if following is necessary, the driver of the lead vehicle should go slower and anticipate what the following driver might have to do to keep up.

1) I think most of us could have predicted the outcome of this research and come up with the same recommendations. 2) Does anyone who drives a car not own a smartphone in 2017?

What not to do with a hotel room tea kettle

According to the website, this is a thing that some people in China do when staying in a hotel. Whether travelers in Western nations also do so is not known.

A reporter for Gizmodo Australia asked a molecular biology professor from New Zealand’s Massey University to comment. She said, “It is super super super super gross” and pointed out that boiling does not necessarily kill spores formed by some types of bacteria.

Even if boiling killed all known living things, I still wouldn’t want to drink a cup of tea from a kettle that had contained someone’s skivvies the night before.


artiger said...

That last part was rather unappetizing, although I'd offer that humans somehow survived drinking water from less sanitary sources for many, many years prior to now.

Debra Gottsleben said...

1) Was told to sing happy birthday while washing hands but that is probably way longer than necessary. Try not to touch door handles at school where I work (use paper towels to turn handle).
2) Have had people drive way too fast and go through yellow lights while I'm supposed to be following. I try to drive slowly if I have someone following me.
3)Per my response to your tweet on this topic you might want to rethink using a hotel ice bucket. In my defense it did have a plastic bag to line it with.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Artiger, what you say is true, but the aesthetics of boiling underwear in a tea kettle are not good.

Debra, I agree singing happy birthday is too long. You should never have to follow anyone again in your lifetime unless your phone is dead. At least no one is going to boil their underwear in an ice bucket (probably).

William Reichert said...

Aesthetics aside, and from a purely bacteriological standpoint, which activity spreads more germs: french kissing or drinking water from a kettle that cleaned underwear with boiling water? Just posing the question .

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Sorry, I can't put the aesthetics aside.:-)

swakins said...

You need to wash undies in a hotel, clean them in the shower while you have them on, what's wrong with people. Hey, I don't even trust that cup wrapped in plastic in a hotel.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Swakins, I'm just glad I don't drink tea.

Lady Anne said...

My dad, bless him, was NOT the driver you wanted in the "other" car. If you were following him, he seemed to drive as if he was going to a fire. But, if he was following you, he dawdled.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Sounds about right. I think following someone to get somewhere will be a thing of the past very soon.

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