We Have A Solution. Let’s Go Find A Problem For It
I WAS WATCHING TV THE OTHER DAY when I actually saw something new. It was an ad from the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company. They were singing the praises of a brand new product: Anti-Bacterial Paint.
The commercial showed this stereotypical suburban mommy gleefully painting away. She was certainly better dressed for painting than I had ever seen before. There was no drop cloth either, so I must assume that this new paint was also Anti-Gravity and never dripped.
While she rolled the paint on a wall, grinning like she was getting away with something, the voice-over guy enthusiastically told me that I could now make anyplace germ free with their new paint.
At the end of the 30 second spot I was educated about the paint and the happy mommy was finished painting what turned out to be a child’s bedroom. I know it was that because there were toys on the floor (paint free) and mobiles hanging from the ceiling. It was a lovely room except for the walls. It seems that the mommy had chosen to paint her beloved offspring’s room in the same light green that is used to paint the walls in Men’s Rooms worldwide. I began to have doubts. Was she painting her little darling’s room or was it the Boy’s Room in some Middle School?
My mystification at her color choice overwhelmed the message about the paint. Anti-Bacterial? Does that include the wall next to the urinals? Those walls get a real microbial workout.
I was feeling shortchanged on information, so I Googled the new product. There were quite a number of hits on the paint story. Out of my innate sense of fairness I stuck with the Sherwin-Williams promo/news story. They were really going full tilt on how their paint could save lives in hospitals. I’m in favor of that. Of course, getting rid of life threatening agents in a hospital would probably entail banishing Ambulance-Chaser Lawyers and most of the food in the cafeteria. A lot of the doctors would be scrubbed away too. The paint couldn’t hurt either, except for the commercial paint crew that comes in to do the job. They may keel over, the paint’s first victims, if they are anything like most commercial painters I know.
According to the Google story, “Sherwin (Williams must have been out to lunch) says the paint kills virtually all Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, vancomycin-resistant Enterococci and Enterobacter aerogenes after two hours of exposure on a painted surface.” That sounds like the starting roster of the Greek World Cup Soccer team.
The key words in that blurb about the paint are – “VIRTUALLY ALL.”
To me that means: “SOME, BUT NOT ALL.” And therein lies the problem. When it comes to things like infections, particularly in a hospital, SOME nasty microbes are enough. It doesn’t take ALL of the bad germs to jump into your incision to nail you. In any case, you are not going to get anyplace totally germ free. The cleanest spot in the hospital still has some dangerous things scooting about. If it was completely sterile in surgery we would never hear about patients picking up little ugly things like flesh-eating bacteria or $37 aspirin tablets that help pay for malpractice insurance.
The Fanfare and Hoopla about this paint is just that, Fanfare and Hoopla. The Smiling Mommy can paint her child’s room with ten coats of Sherwin-Williams paint and five minutes after the kid leaves the room he’ll be outside eating dirt and French Kissing the family Basset Hound.
Bacteria are a part of our environment. Without them we would never develop immunities and we would never have Kraft (no relation, darn it) Macaroni and Cheese to feed the kid at lunchtime. We would all eventually succumb from some rather benign microbe that we would pick up from a quart of hand-packed Rocky Road ice cream or a hot dog at the baseball game.
End of Soapbox Lecture. You may now return to something productive.