Tagged: hand drying

The concept of hygiene and the human microbiome.

Reblogged from MicrobeBE.net.

(This post was written by Roo Vandegrift, at the University of Oregon)

I was recently asked to spearhead the writing of a review centered around the interaction between the concept of hygiene and our increasingly nuanced understanding of the human skin microbiome for the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center at the University of Oregon.

This review began with an invitation from Dyson to conduct an impartial review of hand drying studies, which have been mired in competing interests and faulty methods. We saw an opportunity to not only provide an unbiased review of the literature, but also to ask a more fundamental question: how should hygiene be defined in light of our evolving perspective of the human and indoor microbiome?  We delivered a brief summary to Dyson (here) and then built upon that work to develop this question.  

As we started digging into the body of literature on hand hygiene, two things struck us as peculiar: the first was that in the hundreds of studies explicitly examining hygiene, the concept was never explicitly defined; the second was that there seemed to be a clear division between skin microbiological investigations coming from clinically and ecologically informed perspectives, with clinical research generally relying on older cultivation-dependent techniques. These two issues became the drivers for our review, and our goal was to provide an explicit definition of hygiene that would help to bridge the gap between the clinical skin microbiology literature and the newer human-associated microbial ecology literature. We were then able to use the body of literature on hand drying as a case-study to examine the implications of using a microbial ecology-based approach to defining hygiene.

You can read the full review as a preprint on bioRxiv now: http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/12/20/0957450

You can read the shorter, white page summary of the review on the BioBE blog: https://biobe.uoregon.edu/2016/11/04/cleanliness-in-context

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Cleanliness in Context


The BioBE Center just published a white paper, titled “Hand Hygiene in the 21st Century: Cleanliness in Context” that examines the history and current literature on hygiene. Specifically, the paper focuses on the role of hand drying and the debate in the literature surrounding paper towels and electric hand dryers. We posit that the conception of hygiene as a unilateral reduction or removal of microorganisms has outlived its usefulness, and propose a definition that is quantitative, uses modern molecular biology tools, and is focused on disease reduction.  20170102_BioBE_Hygiene_Dyson_summary

Edit 2017.01.11: updated white paper to reflect most recent version, added image.