National center for infection control professionals, healthcare experts, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and consumers focused on best practices in hand hygiene and hand sanitizer products

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Care Reform: $50 Billion In Cost Savings From Hand Hygiene

With nearly 2 million people dying a year from Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) and costing up to $50 billion annually, the Joint Commission as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pressing for higher hand hygiene compliance rates. 

A recent study showed that hand-washing and sanitizing in a healthcare setting can be as low as 34 percent.

Complying with Government Requirements

Food-borne illnesses cause 82 million illnesses in the U.S. annually with 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.

They cost $152 billion annually in direct medical expenses and lost productivity, health experts estimate.

Foodborne illnesses are caused by a host of pathogens. Hand-washing is recognized as one of the simplest, most effective way of reducing the rate of food-borne illnesses. 

Because it takes no more than 15 seconds of friction to dissolve, alcohol-free hand sanitizers substantially reduce the bacterial and viral contamination of hands and the transmission of illness-causing microorganisms

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whooping Cough Epidemic: Another Hand Hygiene Crisis

With yet another hand hygiene crisis unfolding, this time a whooping cough "epidemic" in California, once again the issue of appropriate hand sanitizers comes to the headlines.

 today reports on the continuously-increasing focus on the features/benefits of Non-Alcohol Hand Sanitizers vs. the legacy toxic and flammable alcohol-based products. Click on the title link for the full story!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Camp, Hand Hygiene and Safe Sanitizers for the Hands

Proving once again that social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook and other 'channels' can create a well-spring of communication, we clap our hands in honor of UK-based Juliet Robertson, the founder of Creative Star Learning Co., who turned to us for info and suggestions about best  hand hygiene strategies and products than can be used by pre-schoolers attending outdoor learning centers and summer day camps where hand washing facilities are not easily accessible or available.

Juliet can be found on Twitter at this location

To: Juliet (and your 18,000 followers on Twitter)

1. Getting 'down and dirty' in the outdoors is, as you eloquently advocate on your website, a good thing for little tikes. It introduces them to the beauty of Mother Nature.

2. A little dirt on the hands is actually a good thing, all things being equal. Not all bacteria is bad, and presuming the environment in which the tikes are exploring isn't adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, or other areas that have been invaded by pollutants or otherwise infested by pathogens that have been carried by man (or woman),  the concerns about what tikes are touching need to be put into proper perspective.

3. Obviously, one needs to be careful about touching certain types of plants/vegetation (poison ivy, poison oak, etc. etc.), but the good news is that certain non-alcohol hand sanitizer products that use benzalkonium chloride (a/k/a/ "BAC") as the active ingredient can prove to be an ideal treatment. In fact, this is the same ingredient found in the better poison ivy/poison oak ointments and lotions. Note: Using alcohol hand sanitizers to wash off oil from poison ivy does not work.

4. For the readers that have been misled into thinking that alcohol gels "clean" the hands, the responsible manufacturers of those toxic and flammable products will advise "wash hands before applying". This is because alcohol does not penetrate dirt, and therefore, has almost zero usefulness on skin that might be soiled with just about anything.

To answer your question i.e. particular products when there's no sink and faucet; many of the alcohol-free hand sanitizers that use BAC are water-based. Many are dispensed in foam format, others in a "spray" format. Regardless, its the water that "cleans" the dirt (or other particles) from the skin, and the antibacterial is what eradicates the bad bacteria. Note: BAC is the common ingredient in many first aid antiseptic products. It won't sting and, unlike alcohol gel, it won't present a risk of infection.

So, there's a 3-in-1 solution that solves the problem that alcohol hand sanitizer gels simply cannot touch. Pun intended.

That said, and as noted in the below white paper that you might find interesting, alcohol hand sanitizers in a camp/outdoor setting are useful to the extent that they can be used to help start the camp fire if you can't locate dry wood or twigs. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also useful for the counselors that have had a rough day; pour the alcohol gel into a cup, mix in two or three tablespoons of salt, stir gently for a few a minutes and then pour the liquid into your canteen. Bingo! You've just brewed yourself a libation!

Recommended safe, alcohol-free hand sanitizer products? Most of the BAC-based alcohol-free sanitizers are similar in formula. So, educated shoppers should be comparing not only prices, but the ingredients. We like the ones that don't have a fragrance, and don't use any dye or "color" additives; fragrances and dyes can pose allergy-related issues that nobody needs to encounter in the middle of the woods.

Responsible note: too much of anything is not a good idea, regardless of what you hear or read. That includes water! BAC-based products should not be poured into a humidifier, and should not be used to rinse the eyes. Beyond that, most of the products maintain concentration levels that are universally-accepted as being safe for the purposes of apply-on-hands antiseptic or antibacterial.

For carry size bottles, we're told that "Soapopular" is available in the UK and can be purchased online via the company's UK-based distributor. That product is also widely-available in the US and Canada, and US customers can buy online at

Another, competitively priced 'brand' that is fragrance-free and dye free is Hy5. For camp operators, this product line includes portable dispensing stands that are low-cost, extremely durable and designed for rugged environments.

If not convenient to be putting a 2 oz or 3 oz bottle in a knapsack or pouch, non-alcohol hand wipes (again, using a quaternary ammonium compound such as BAC) are fine for kids. In fact, most baby wipes are non-alcohol (or they should be!)

For those that don't subscribe to the idea of using any type of hand sanitizers, even an alcohol-free product (which is fine, our perspective is that washing with a good soap and water is always the best approach), we'd caution against washing the hands in a local stream or pond that has not been deemed "safe drinking water".

No need to list all of the potential bad bacteria that can be easily encountered in water that we're not familiar with. Along the same lines, 'wiping the hands" with large leaves that might appear to be a natural paper towel is not necessarily a good idea either.

Hand Hygiene Lessons: Sanitizers for Schools and Summer Camps

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#BP Clean Up Effort Includes Hand Hygiene Hazard

It seems that the folks at BP are not only confused about how to stop thousands of barrels of oil from gushing into the Gulf, they're equally confused when it comes to providing clean-up workers with proper hand hygiene products.

According to a local company contracted by BP to provide clean-up supplies, "They (BP) sent us an 18-wheeler filled with alcohol hand sanitizer, and those folks didn't know that alcohol gels don't "clean" hands, and in fact, they don't even penetrate dirt.

The executive from the local company continued to say "..The instructions on the alcohol sanitizer bottles say "wash hands before applying", something that makes no sense to us 'country-folk' down here when considering that workers in the field have no way to wash their hands!"

When it was pointed out that alcohol gels actually irritate the skin and as a result, increase the risk of exposure to bacteria, the executive stated, "That's why we told BP that the product they want us to use isn't going to work any better than the things they've tried to cap the well...So now we're replacing that stuff with an alcohol-free hand sanitizer; the water-based products used by the Navy and Coast Guard and clean the dirt off the skin, and kill the bacteria without killing the skin..."

Monday, June 7, 2010

iPads crawling with bacteria

It's enough to make a techie iGag.
Some of the sleek new iPads users play with at city Apple stores are laced with potentially dangerous bacteria or are just plain dirty, a Daily News investigation revealed.
Of four iPads that were swabbed in two stores last month and then tested in a lab, two contained harmful pathogens.
"Eww," said Brittany Smith, 20, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, after hearing the test results outside Apple's flagship store on Fifth Ave. "Now I need some hand sanitizer."
The News used medical swabs to covertly collect samples from two iPads in the midtown store and the Meatpacking District location on 14th St. They were then tested for culturable bacteria by the New Jersey-based EMSL Analytical Inc.
One sample, collected at the 14th St. store, contained Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause of staph infections, which can lead to an array of ailments, from minor skin infection to meningitis.
"It can easily cause disease," said research analyst Farbo Nekouei, who evaluated the data for ESML. "It's not a good bacteria."
The second swab from that store only contained benign, skin-borne microbes, but in unusually high quantities, pointing to an extremely grimy iPad.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

H1N1 Swine Flu Lingers; Experts Say: "Expect regular fall/winter pattern.."

"What most people are expecting is that [the new H1N1 strain] will supplant the older H1N1 viruses that were the previous seasonal strains and become the seasonal H1N1 virus," explained Dr. John J. Treanor, professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "The most likely scenario would be that we would continue to see the descendants of pandemic H1N1 causing seasonal outbreaks of flu, with probably normal timing," he said.

Click on the title link for the full article from Bloomberg Businessweek