Monday, March 27, 2006

Getting a Grip on Hand Sanitizers

A new report in the CDC’s March Edition of Emerging Infectious Disease found that some gel hand sanitizers do not do a good job of killing germs. Researchers found that the alcohol content of some gels in insufficient to kill fungi and bacteria.

The FDA recommends a 60% to 95% formula of ethanol or isopropanol for hand sanitizers. One commercial hand cleaning gel that was tested promised a 99.9% reduction in “germs and harmful bacteria.” Lab experiments showed that this gel, with a 40% ethanol concentration, yielded no significant reduction in microbial load, which makes it as effective as washing your hands with tap water.

While having some effect on fungi, the gel actually increased bacterial load. Results showed that the most common bacteria found on the hands were staphylococci, including those with characteristics of Staphylococcus aureus.

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