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uv light hand washer

kill bacteria with uv light
  (+4, -2)
(+4, -2)
  [vote for,

many water filtration devices use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, but i wonder if the same technique could be used to kill bacteria on your hands. i have heard that washing with soap and water only gets some of the bacteria, and this could lead to problems later, especially with kids who can be lax in their hand washing. another application would be in hospitals, where hand washing is very important.

a device could be placed pretty much anywhere in the house with a foot-activated switch, and the person's hands would be placed under the light source for a sufficient amount of time so that the bacteria could be killed.

mihali, May 05 2002


       UV rays are extremely bad for the skin.
po, May 05 2002

       Maybe for gloved hands in a surgical, or food-handling, setting?  You could go all out and use X-ray or cesium 137/cobalt 60 . . . .
bristolz, May 05 2002

       po - not true for all uv rays, just most of them. I wonder whether the not-too-harmful ones would do a good job of killing bacteria though?   

       Another possible problem is that, while a good idea for surgery, where the benefits of total sterility is obvious, this might not be as useful as you'd think in an everyday applications. I have heard or read numerous doctors' opinions that the increase in anti-bacterial soaps, washing up liquids etc are actually bad for us in the long run for two reasons. Firstly, they do the job of our immune system for us, thus weakening it. Secondly, they allow microbes to develop which are immune to the most common anti-biotics - a dangerous trend!   

       And of course, the uv light wouldn't get rid of any dirt... I think bristolz has the right idea, especially as some sort of uv filtering can easily be added to latex gloves.   

       On balance, i'm staying neutral.
yamahito, May 05 2002

       UV light sterilisation is already baked (I've done it myself on non-autoclavable instruments)   

       But yes, UV causes cancer, and won't get rid of the stuff microbes will grow in, so not really suitable for hands.   

       Yamahito, with regard to anti-bacterial soaps, I think the first reason you give (that they prevent exposure to bacteria) is basically incorrect. We live in a bacterial soup, and whether your chopping board is sterile or not isn't going to make much difference. It is just important to prevent pathogens growing to large numbers on things, which just means cleaning them
However, the second point is a real concern. As I understand it best practice is to use bleach or other 'basic' chemical compounds. Bleach has been used for many years and pathogens show no signs of developing immunity.
One more thing. Plasmids are small pieces of DNA which can transfer from one bacteria to another (in some cases to entirely different species). They can carry antibiotic resistance genes. Some also confer resistance to UV. So if you select with UV, pretty soon you can be co-selecting antibiotic resistances.
Loris, Feb 20 2003

       seeing as UV causes skin cancer it seems like a pretty bad idea. not to mention you'd get a really wierd tan just on your hands. and of course the skin damage caused by the UV would become noticible after a while too, even if you didn't get cancer
ModernDivo, Aug 04 2008


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