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Last week we posted Part 1 of my interview with the Germ Guy, Jason A. Tetro (in picture to right). If you haven’t participated with our poll, please do today. At the time of this posting, it looks like the majority of people wash their hands at least 4 or more times per day. Like mentioned in Part 1, try to wash your hands more per day (as close to 8 to 12 times per day as possible). Below is the rest of the interview.



TJ (HealthyMenToday): So I have been asking you about washing hands and this phenomenon that does not get done enough times.  So we need to practice people.  Yes I am talking about practice..practice.. So let me take a step back and talk about hygiene as a whole.

I feel like preserving health is one of the definitions of hygiene – why is this not associated strongly to this like exercise is to maintain health?

Jason A. Tetro (JAT): : Well, to be honest, this is primarily due to the fact that hygiene is associated with a different and darker period in time.

In the Middle Ages, death by disease was a common occurrence but few understood how to prevent it.  The going theory was that disease was in ‘bad air’ or miasma and that prevention was simply accrued to distance from the source.  Over next few hundred years, sources of disease were found and a revolution took place to separate the contaminated source from the people.  This included the development of closed sewer lines, separated garbage dumps and the use of pumps rather than fountains for water.  These methods were all grouped together as hygiene measures and as such, the word hygiene became a matter of institutional change rather than personal health.  By the end of the 19th Century, the word hygiene was associated with stodgy politicians and bureaucrats whose sole intention was to disrupt normal everyday life in the hopes of elongating one’s lifespan and miserable existence.


Today, hygiene is making a comeback but it’s difficult to de-stigmatize its historical meaning.  This is why I believe that we may need a new definition to better understand how to stay healthy.  I call it corporeal ecology (or body ecology) in which the goal is to best understand how individuals fit in the environment and how the environment affects each individual.  It’s gaining some momentum but as with everything in health, it’s slower than I would like.


TJ:  You went all historical on me.

JAT Correction, I got medieval on you, with apologies to Quentin Tarantino.
TJ: True enough. I just wanted to say wow….that is impressive. With that said does hygiene get neglected?


JAT: Absolutely!  This due in part to the rugged individualism that I mentioned earlier as well as the fact that hygiene is something that everyone takes for granted.  Ironically, most people pay attention to hygiene only after he or she becomes sick.  Hygiene is supposed to prevent illness in the first place, yet that message simply does not seem to have any traction in the public mindset.
TJ: There are a lot of hygienic products in the industry – any products that you would recommend? Any particular companies do you feel who truly put the consumer first than profit to mention?


JAT: I think the best way to answer this is to stick to the ingredients that work.  When it comes to soap, it doesn’t matter if one uses white soap, glycerin soap or something that’s minty fresh; as long as it has a lathering surfactant, it will do the job of removing the dirt, oil, grime and dead skin to keep hands clean.


The picture gets a little foggier when it comes to hand sanitizers.  There is no doubt that an alcohol handrub that contains between 60 and 80 percent will work as long as there is a contact time of at least 30 seconds.  Yet many handrubs evaporate within 10-15 seconds.  So, the trick is to be sure that one uses enough.  This can be helped by using a foam, spray, gel, etc.  Brands and companies just don’t matter; the proper use does.


I won’t go into the handrubs that do not contain alcohol simply because they are under high scrutiny from the FDA and other regulatory organizations and it would be unwise to discuss them at this time.


TJ: That’s advice not really given by these consumer products – “stick to the ingredients that work” instead getting us with the flashy and hip product.

JAT: It’s the “Shiny Object Syndrome” and it’s been used for decades. But as we’ve learned with foods in the past, the best thing to do is read the label.


TJ: I feel the dental industry does a great job in promoting hygiene for the teeth – any industry that really needs to step up its game?

JAT: I guess above all would be the food industry.  But in the same breath I wonder how this could be done without scaring consumers.  Food poisoning is an unfortunate reality and we have all heard horror stories from both eating establishments and the home.  There is a plethora of information out there on how to keep hygienic food practices such as the four C’s – Cleaning, Cooking, Cross contamination prevention and Chilling, but how one uses them differs between ethnic, traditional and even socioeconomic statuses.  Until there is a harmonization of message that would best suit all, I don’t foresee any major changes.

TJ: I like that, I am using the 4 C’s at my next dinner.  Before I let you go, I know you have such an accomplished background and but saw that you recently work for Morrighan Films, so I have to ask what did you do for them?

JAT: I have been a screenwriter and a short film director with Morrighan Films although more recently I have worked independently to develop a video campaign with the help of some the wonderful women of Bollywood For Fun here in Ottawa, Darner Media and Deb Canada.  We’ve recently posted a teaser (See Below) although I hope the campaign will be released soon!


TJ: Thanks again for taking the time and helping us educate our audience (and myself) on this matter.  This was a fun interview and by the way you ever need an extra in the next film you know who can step in.  I been practicing.


JAT: I know where to find you. Just make sure your hands are clean when we shake on the contract.


More resources:

Take a look at this video from the New England Journal of Medicine for example on how to perform proper hand hygiene: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMvcm0903599?emp=marcom&

Check out a video teaser for an upcoming health campaign with a unique twist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWRCVIoXXkI