by Brady Rivkin

Be wise and sanitize. This is the phrase that has been uttered an enormous amount of times during this school year and in the past, but the notion that two actions commanded truly fit together is questionable. Sanitizer, though it has been lauded for the fact that it “kills 99.99% of germs” with claims like that of Purell, has a dark side hidden in plain sight in the warnings section. That states that the product is “For external use only”, but skin has pores, and the toxins that exist in sanitizers can leach into the body even if not swallowed.

Since sanitizer is meant to kill organisms, it is made with substances that, if accumulated in the body over time, are lethal. These toxins can come from anyone who sanitized before handling food to equipment that is constantly sanitized. The rationale for it is simple: it kills the many germs that would otherwise affect the human body in negative ways. But what the majority of Americans don’t seem to know is that the human body has a microbiome of beneficial bacteria that is trained to fight the intrusive organisms that sanitizer is designed to kill. When people sanitize, these germs are killed and the microbiome is knocked off balance, making it difficult for the body to recover should an unwanted microbe invade.

With the way sanitizer is meant to destroy, it serves as a topical antibiotic. This may seem trivial, but the fact that sanitizer has similar properties and the same purpose suggests that it wreaks the same havoc of making certain microorganisms resistant to it. It may kill 99.99 percent of germs now, but its supposed powers of impeding illness are being put to the test by its own characteristics.

As aforementioned, sanitizer is commended for its ability to kill germs, but that leaves nearly nothing for the body to test its mettle against. People who sanitize, then, are more likely to become ill because their bodies are unprepared for any onslaught. In order to counteract this trend, people can support their immune system by eating whole, unprocessed food so that the body can focus on protection instead of digestion. When the digestive system is bogged down by the deluge of processed food in the Standard American Diet, it distracts the body from fighting illness. Because of this, people have turned to sanitizer to drown their problems in, but they can always wash their hands, which takes about ten second longer than sanitizing, and eat real food. Americans seem to care about their health, but if they truly want better lives, they simply need to put down the sanitizer and pick up the soap.

Note: I, the author, barely ever sanitize, and I have never been affected by what sanitizer is meant to protect against.