Kitchen Sponges: Cleaning Tool or Germ Dispenser?

The notorious kitchen sponge—that germ-ridden object found in many households—is at the center of a new controversy about controlling the spread of infections in the home. Several years ago we reported a University of Florida research team found microwaving very wet sponges for two minutes at high power killed or inactivated over 99 percent of all the living


Preparing for the Next Flood and its Aftermath

If you live in a flood-prone area, are you prepared for the next deluge? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fast moving water that reaches just over your ankles can knock you off your feet. And don’t try to drive through it. Driving on flooded roads is the most common thunderstorm-related hazard that can kill


Sepsis: A New Global Health Priority

“Sepsis,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is “a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.” More commonly known as “blood poisoning,” sepsis strikes “with equal ferocity in resource-poor areas and in the developed world,” according to


Climbing the Rungs of the Safe Water and Sanitation Service Ladders

The humble ladder can be a symbol of progress toward lofty goals. The lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” for example, include a moving wish for the singer’s newborn son: “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung…” Symbolic ladders are also used by the Joint Monitoring Program of the


Keeping Your Reusable Water Bottle Clean

The reusable water bottle is one of those “grab and go” items that travel with many of us on a daily basis. The filled water bottle provides a handy means of hydrating on the spot. As we’ve noted, many water fountains now conveniently include water bottle-filling features. There’s just one caveat to deriving the maximum health


Three Tips to Help You Prepare for a Home Water Emergency

Water flows into your home on a daily basis for essential uses, but how much do you know about your water supply and its circulation through your living space? Are you ready for a household water emergency? These tips can help you prepare for the unexpected. Know how to turn it off: In the event of


Avoiding Salmonella from Backyard Poultry

Backyard poultry farming is an increasingly popular trend in urban and suburban areas that permit it, giving families a fun way to raise food while learning to care for animals. Assuming roosters are banned in the neighborhood for their earsplitting “cock-a-doodle-doo,” what could be the downside of raising poultry in the backyard? The answer is


Zika Virus: What Can We Expect this Summer?

As summertime approaches and vulnerable areas of the US warm up, concerns over the potential spread of Zika virus are on the rise. The virus is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, but also can be transmitted sexually. Zika virus is associated with birth defects (microcephaly) in infants of infected


Superbugs and Sewage at the Beach

We seem to be reading and writing a lot about superbugs—antibiotic resistant bacteria that are responsible for at least 2 million infections (including healthcare-associated infections acquired while receiving medical treatment in a hospital) and 23,000 deaths each year in the US.1 But the recent discovery of the “superbug enzyme” NDM2 in bathing seawaters in Ireland


A New Resource to Help Curtail Norovirus: Pictogram Disinfection Posters

Norovirus, the dreaded illness popularly known as the “stomach bug,” is the leading cause of gastrointestinal upset in the US. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 19 to 21 million cases of norovirus in the US annually. The highly contagious virus is an unwelcome visitor in schools, day