Stop casual hand sanitization

by Brandon Clark

Be health conscious and refuse to feed the flame that is antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The casually obsessive behavior to generously apply hand sanitizer comes with a few unexpected side effects for public health that need to be avoided. In the wake of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, hand sanitizer dispensers are more available. They can be seen at every entrance, near every bathroom and outside of every restaurant. Now that the flu season is over, what good do they serve? While itâÄôs true that hand sanitizer promotion during this season decreases illness and increases attendance in college environments, there is no longer an urgent need for excessive use of sanitizers. These products are used frequently and often incorrectly; a proper application requires that the gel be rubbed on the hands for two minutes for thorough protection. This practice is no more effective than normal hand washing, and should not replace the use of normal hand soap. ItâÄôs ironic that hand sanitizer is found in so many bathrooms. Guidelines that call for hand sanitizer use recommend it be used by doctors or those caring for others, which doesnâÄôt apply to most students. Every time we improperly use hand sanitizer we kill some bacteria, while leaving resistant strains alive. These bacteria reproduce to form resistant strains of bacteria, which are now harder to kill. I urge members of the University of Minnesota to use hand sanitizer responsibly. Take the time to wash your hands, and save the antibiotic use for those who need it. Brandon Clark, University undergraduate student