Common Sense Cleaning

Contaminants:
Urine, feces, dog poop, pesticides, radioactive material, fuels, acids, bases, and anything else with harmful microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, nematodes, viruses).

Sources:
Bathrooms, food prep areas, grocery stores, diaper changing tables, anywhere!!

So imagine if you will, that you are simply working with a bright neon pink paint. You touch the paint and then watch the chain of events. You scratch your nose, you touch a door handle, you wash your hands, then you see the faucet handle, the sponge, the sink, you pet your dog, you touch a child, you drive your car and see the handle and steering wheel. Anywhere you touch after you touch the paint can be seen.

The same is true with harmful chemicals and microorganisms. Follow the chain of events.

When I used to participate in pesticide training, we used a dye that would show under blacklight. We would have a demonstrator handle pesticides. They did this with gloves, goggles, overalls, and boot covers. After spraying, they clean out the tank, remove all the contaminated safety gear into a bin, then walk out of the room. Then they turned off the lights and the black light on. You could see where he failed to remove the gear properly. He touched things he shouldn’t have. And you can see where contamination spread.

When I was in introductory microbiology, we swabbed a bathroom. These were in the days of bar soap. We swabbed many surfaces in the bathroom. The worst places were the faucet handle, the door handle to the bathroom stall, the door handle exiting the room, and the bar of soap. They were chocked full of E. coli, Staph. aureus, and other bacteria. So even after you wash your hands, you recontaminate yourself on anything you touch.

The reason for this post is that the CDC just issued a warning about washing raw chicken. They encourage to not wash chicken. This is not because washing chicken is bad. Its because we place the chicken on cutting boards, use utensils to wash them, and we spread more bacteria by washing them than by not. Then we don’t clean the cutting board, the faucet handle, and our hands before moving on. Think of the chicken covered in paint. Where did the paint spread?

And some would say, that’s why I’m a vegetarian. Cleaning dead animals is dirty. But imagine this. A worker is tending a field of romaine lettuce. His coffee caught up with him and he ends up heading to the porta potty to empty his bowels. He isn’t super careful how he wipes and inevitably ends up with contaminated fingers. Then he goes back to the field to harvest more lettuce. Bacteria ends up on the lettuce and grows exponentially. As the load shifts, the lettuce touches many other heads of lettuce. It may have even been handled with another worker and the contamination spreads multiple times. You end up buying this head of lettuce in the grocery store. You are washing it in the sink and use a vegetable brush to make sure its clean. But every surface, every place your hands touched after touching the lettuce, and the vegetable brush are now contaminated with fecal coliforms. Its a massive chain of events.

Always think of your food or harmful materials as paint. Where will the paint show up?

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