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10 things that aren’t true about hygiene

There are a lot of things we think we know about those germs all around us, but only some of that stuff is true.

10 things that aren’t true about hygiene

We've got a handy crash course in hygiene fact and fiction for you.

Mental Floss made this entertaining video that somehow still manages to clear up misconceptions about staying clean and germ-free. Scroll down if you want to get right to it.

Misconception #1: The five-second rule (0:16)


Sadly, not true. The little buggers start climbing on your food right away. Sigh.

2. Soap kills germs. (0:48)

Soap doesn't actually kill anything. It just makes germs slide off your hands when you rinse them in clean water.

3. Viruses stay alive on hard surfaces a long time. (1:05)

Well, what's a long time? Depends on the germ. But even the cold virus can't get you after 24 hours.

4. Urine disinfects burns and stings. (1:27)

Ew. Plus, urine is *not* a disinfectant. It's not even sterile, contrary to what some people think.

5. The toilet seat is very germy. (1:46)

Well, it is a potty, but there are fewer germs on it than on your desk. There's also more on the flush handle. You won't catch diseases from a toilet, though, including STDs.

6. Everyone washes their hands. (2:19)


Er, 10% of people don't wash their hands after using a public restroom. What are they thinking?

7. Everyone washes their hands correctly. (2:50)

95% of us don't. Yipes. There's a tutorial in the video.

8. Hand dryers blow germs around. (3:35)

Nope.

9. Dirty people get lice. (4:09)

Again, nope. It just takes head-to-head contact with someone who has it.

10. Hand sanitizers cause bacterial resistance. (4:31)

Probably not. Sanitizer kills germs as long as it's at least 60% alcohol and doesn't contain triclosan or triclocarban.

Here's the video. There's a lot more amusing, helpful, and fact-y info in it. Enjoy.

The difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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