Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chronicles of a Previous Biology Major

You learn things in biology you don't want to know. Trust me. The classes made me a worse germ freak than I already was, which is really truly saying something. But I really did learn some useful things.

Fact #1 If your mom does home canning, do you remember how she would always freak out about boiling the green beans for 15 minutes without touching it with the spoon or anything, to kill any BOTULISM? Guess what? That is a complete MYTH! If the botulism is not killed during the actual bottling process, you will die. Sad but true. Boiling the green beans will kill the organisms, but not the toxin...which just so happens to be (I'm not kidding) literally the most deadly substance known to mankind. So for at least for my cousins, you remember that growing up, getting scolded if you stirred them before 15 minutes and having to get out a new spoon. I know I did. I was pleased as could be to tell that to my mom and Debra...and I bet you wouldn't be able to guess that really didn't believe me. :) Apparently they have been bottling properly though, since we are all still alive (and boiling them never did anything).

Fact #2 The label reads "kills 99.9% of germs" and you think hooray. I know I used to, being the germ freak that I am. Haaa. I am happy to say since this day in class, I haven't used anything with that on the label. Here is why. Say you have a modest amount of germs...say 10,000 and we will pretend like we are cleaning the bathroom. You use something that kills 99.9% of germs, and have 100 left now. 100 that are now resistant to that antibacterial product. Now someone hops in the shower and the bathroom gets steamy and warm...which speeds up bacteria's reproduction significantly. They reproduce at a crazy fast rate under this condition and suddenly your bathroom is filled with bacteria that is completely resistant to whatever product you used. So next time you clean with that, no germs are killed and they keep reproducing. Sickening thought, isn't it?

Fact #3 (Disclaimer to Mattskie: if you continue reading you CANNOT get mad at me, I warned you!!!!) Melaleuca oil is not a good antibacterial product! In our lab we had to do a final project and one group chose to test different antibacterial products. They put disks soaked in the product into the petri dish that had been swiped from someplace germy. Some of the petri dishes didn't really have anything, some of them had a dot or two here and there... but the Melaleuca oil petri dish GREW bacteria everywhere! Not that it matters, since you now know cleaning with antibacterial products isn't a good idea anyway. :)

The two morals of the story:

Bottle properly or you will die. :)
Soap and water is the best cleaning agent.