I LOVE when my readers ask questions, then I research and learn more too!! Thanks Sharmila for asking about better alternatives to the handi-wipes at every store these days to wipe down your cart handle.
Sharmila asked "I use the alcohol hand sanitizer on the shopping carts instead of those courtesy wipes. Rubbing alcohol isn't bad for the kids the same way bleach is...no?"
I am guilty of using the Purell (gratuitous use of a trade name, I know) too. I try and avoid it but for example, they require it at the gym daycare. I hadn't really thought much of it until now but here's what I learned:
Earth Talk: Safety issues with gel hand sanitizersby the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: My pediatrician swears by those gel hand sanitizers for lowering the risk of my family getting sick during cold and flu season. But I've also heard that these products can be dangerous to kids if ingested. Are there any safer alternatives that work just as well?
A 2005 study by the Children's Hospital in Boston compared illness rates across a study group of 292 families-half of them got hand sanitizers while the other half were given literature advising them of the benefits of frequent hand washing. The findings revealed that those families who used hand sanitizers experienced a 59 percent reduction in gastrointestinal illnesses and that the increased use of sanitizers correlated to a decreased spread of contagions in general.
Another study conducted at Colorado State University yielded similar conclusions, that alcohol-based hand sanitizers were as much as twice as effective as either regular soap or antibacterial soap at reducing germs on human hands. A Purdue University study, however, concluded that while alcohol-based hand sanitizers may kill more germs than plain or triclosan-based soaps, they do not prevent more infections that make people sick. Instead they may kill the human body's own beneficial bacteria by stripping the skin of its outer layer of oil.
The down side of the gel/alcohol products is their danger as poison, especially for young children who may ingest the gel by licking it off their hands or eating it directly out of dispensers. Purell and Germ-X, two of the leading brands, each contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol. While this alcohol is what gives the products their germ-busting power, it also puts kids at risk of alcohol poisoning. A few squirts of the hand sanitizer-which is equivalent to124 proof booze-is enough to make a kid's blood alcohol level .10, which is the equivalent of being legally drunk in most states.
So what's a concerned parent to do? Unfortunately, the so-called greener alternatives out there aren't safe to swallow either. EO Hand Sanitizer, for example, though it uses organic lavender oil also contains alcohol to sanitize the skin surface, and would also be considered poison if a large enough amount was ingested. Similarly greener (but still not safe to eat) products are available from Avant and All Terrain.
For now, soap and warm water-and constant nagging of your kids to wash their hands-may be the safest way to sanitize. Also, make sure that any hand sanitizer dispensers you may still use are kept out of the reach of little hands.
But who knows how we'll be sanitizing our hands in the future. Researchers at Arizona State University have found that certain types of natural clays pulled right from the ground are highly effective at killing bacteria. One type of green clay has been shown to do a number on E. coli, salmonella, staph and other bacteria known to make people sick. But the research is still in its infancy, so don't expect to see moms pulling jars of clay out of their purses anytime soon.
CONTACTS: EO Products, www.eoproducts.com; OrganicBeautySource.com, www.organicbeautysource.com; MotherNature.com, www.mothernature.com.
Here are some additional links about the use of these products. I love the tip in one of the following articles of just using a regular old baby wipe.
A couple of things I forgot to mention earlier, I preach immune support, immune support, immune support. Proper nutrition, sleep, removal of processed sugars, PROBIOTICS and other supplements will do your child much better than ANY sanitizing wipe. Our bodies are made to deal with the buggies, chemicals - not so much. The more we boost our system up (rather than tear it down by poor nutrition for example) the more we will be protected from the germs out there. We can't live in a bubble so lets make sure the immune system is as strong as it can be and ditch the chemicals made to kill them (and to a lesser extent, us). And, if you are at all interested in aromatherapy, the essential oil Tea Tree Oil is a very potent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. I put a few drops in a water bottle sprayer and use as "lysol" spray that is safe for kids, pets, etc. You could put a drop of that on your hand and swipe across the handle of the cart too!! I LOVE Tea Tree Oil.