Recently there was a commercial on television about a toilet bowl cleaner that keeps the inside of your toilet bowl germ free for a week. A week! A whole bleeping week with a germ-free toilet bowl. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
I haven’t gone out to buy any yet. I’m still trying to figure out why I need to worry about germs on the inside of my toilet bowl. I mean, even back in the day, when Senor Cuervo and I would spend too much time together and I’d end up hugging said bowl, I’m pretty sure I never touched the inside of one.
I just don’t get all the fear and paranoia people have over germs. I don’t know a single person my age who even knew what hand sanitizer was, let alone used any when we were growing up. Yet it hangs in all the classrooms at my kids’ school, most moms I know keep some in their purses, and Purel has gone from a brand name to a common noun in some circles. If I remember correctly, we washed our hands before we ate and then when we bathed. Any other time was bonus. And we all seem to be OK now and, I think, healthier than our kids seem to be.
I’m not alone in that opinion. Recently I heard an Obstetrician on a talk radio show. She was saying that back in her day (many years before my day with Jose) when she delivered a baby, immediately she’d put it on the mother’s belly where it would become exposed to the germs of its home environment. No one asked if Mom had taken a shower before giving birth. Nowhere in baby care instructions were parents told to scrub and scour while singing “Happy Birthday” twice before touching the baby and we certainly didn’t have Purel anywhere in the house. She believes that kids were healthier back then, their immune systems stronger against colds and flus, that they had fewer allergies, and far fewer cases of asthma. She worries about today’s youth who are not given the benefit of proper germ exposure.
She didn’t mention it, but it sounded like the good doctor believes in the “Hygiene Hypothesis,” that has many microbiologists a little worried. First posited back in 1989, the Hygiene Hypothesis originally explained the increasing numbers of children with allergies and eczema. It has since grown to incorporate the idea that we are losing the evolutionary gains we made against germs due to our increased usage of soaps and sanitizers. People who follow the HH believe that a child’s developing immune system must be exposed to infectious agents, symbiotic bacteria, and parasites in order to adequately develop regulatory T cells, without which as adults those children will be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases and allergic diseases.
Yet, no one seems to care much about the HH. Perhaps it’s just harder to write ad campaigns for products boasting their ability to encourage germ growth inside your toilet. Or maybe people pay more attention when they’re told to buy something or else germs will attack. I don’t know.
I do know my house must be teeming with germs. I clean with environmentally-friendly products, not solutions with labels boasting their germ-killing capacity. The result? My daughter is home from school today with a slight fever. It’s nothing major and it’s only her second day of missing school this year (aside from vacation). She had no sick days last year (missing again, only for vacation), so I’m thinking it’s ok for germs to grow in my toilet.