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Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Worried About Ebola, Enterovirus and Other Illnesses? Those Reusable Grocery Bags Can Make You Sick
Once again the cure is as bad as the illness. It seems as if going green can really cause someone to turn green. Those reusable grocery bags can make you sick. They retain viruses such as E.coli, salmonella and if exposed to the wrong people they could even contain Ebola.
Remember the good old days, when you went to the grocery store and brought food home in brown paper bags. Those bags were great, they had so many uses once you brought them home everything from "trick or treating," to trash bags. They even inspired a popular comedian "The Unknown Comic"
Throughout my public school years each text book I had was named Walbaums because they were protected by brown paper bags covers created out of the paper bags from my mom's favorite supermarket.
Enter the reusable grocery bags, they are good for groceries and Halloween but you can't use them for book covers. They don't kill trees and will slow the build-up of plastic in the landfills. The only real problem with them is they are great incubators of E.coli, and salmonella, and people don't was them.
A recent USA Today article points to a 2011 study from scientists at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University which found only 3% of shoppers with multi-use bags said they regularly washed them. The same study found bacteria in 99% of bags tested; half carried coliform bacteria while 8% carried E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination. A separate study published in 2012 traced a norovirus outbreak among a girls' soccer team from Oregon to a reusable bag stored in a hotel bathroom used by an ill team member.
The viruses get on the reusable bags mostly through the meat and fruit and they tend to peculate when in warm environments such as the car on the way home from the grocery store. Throwing the bags in the washing machine between uses will eliminate the viruses but people simply don't practice that simple precaution.
Obviously a reusable bag isn't going to suddenly pick up the Ebola virus, it would take someone with symptoms to transfer some sort of bodily fluid (including perspiration) to the reusable bag for it to become contagious. However on the other hand no one thought a nurse could catch the virus while treating a patient while wearing a hazmat suit.
These days there is much worry about Ebola, Enterovirus and other viruses. Perhaps we need to throw out the reusable and plastic bags and go back to the best option of all paper bags. We may be healthier for the effort.