Images courtesy of Yanko Design
A couple of years ago, a University of Arizona study found that shopping cart handles were loaded with more bacteria and even fecal matter than public bathrooms. According to ABC News, "Every kid in America teethes on shopping cart handles," said Dr. Chuck Gerba at the University of Arizona. "They don't have the best sanitary habits. ... I mean, you're putting your broccoli where their butt was."
That's why Kim Kwang-won designed this clever "Clean Grip" combo sanitizer and coin lock device, shown on Yanko. But is it overkill?
The unit slides across the handrail, wiping it down with sanitizer as it goes. But is this really necessary? Some stores simply deal with the problem by supplying wipes. Others think that a little bacteria could be good for you; in the post Eating Dog Poop Could Be Good For You, researcher Joel Weinstock noted that kids need some exposure.
One leading researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in an interview that the immune system at birth "is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction."
"Children raised in an ultraclean environment," he added, "are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits."
Is this a solution in search of a problem? Are kids getting sick? Not according to an expert quoted on MSNBC.
As far as Dr. Neil Fishman is concerned, that risk isn't very big. "I'd be worried if there was any evidence of any disease outbreaks related to shopping cart use," said Fishman, an infectious disease expert and director of health care epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. "There isn't -- and we've been using them for a long time."
What do you think? Are we too obsessed with germs?