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Disposable Gloves May Feel Safe, but Don't Be Deceived
By Alexander Freund
In supermarkets, at the weekly market, in everyday life: People are being seen more and more often wearing not only face masks but also disposable gloves to protect themselves from the highly infectious coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In many drugstores around the world, they have been sold out for weeks.
Using disposable gloves could seem an obvious way to help avoid catching the disease. After all, infection with the coronavirus can occur not only via a droplet infection, i.e. when someone coughs or sneezes in your proximity, but also via a smear infection. In the latter case, if you touch something on which pathogens are present, they get onto your hand. And if you then touch your hand to your face, eyes, nose or mouth, the viruses can enter your body and make you ill.
Although disposable gloves are worn in doctors' surgeries and by paramedics, they protect the hands only from coarse contamination, such as blood or other bodily fluids. They can protect against contamination with bacteria and viruses only for a very short time.
This is because the material of disposable gloves is actually porous, and the longer you wear them, the easier it is for pathogens to penetrate the supposed protective cover. This is one of the reasons why medical personnel carefully clean and disinfect their hands after using disposable gloves. Disposable gloves expressly do not replace these hygiene rules.
Disposable gloves made of vinyl, latex or nitrile may give a feeling of sterility, but this feeling of safety is very deceptive. Many people take better care not to touch their face when shopping with disposable gloves — but it can happen quite often all the same by accident.
Caution: Even if you reach for your cell phone or in your trouser pocket with disposable gloves, you can still spread the pathogens over a large area without noticing. And it is irrelevant to the virus whether it enters the body from a bare hand or a disposable glove via the face.
'Hygienic Mess on a Massive Scale'
For these reasons, doctors warn urgently not just about this deceptive feeling of security but also point out that disposable gloves can even increase the risk of infection. This is because the skin starts to sweat very quickly under disposable gloves. And such a warm and humid climate is an ideal environment for bacteria and viruses of all kinds.
"Stop wearing medical gloves in public! It's a hygienic mess on a massive scale." That's how drastically Dr. Marc Hanefeld put it on Twitter and Facebook. "Under the glove, bacteria happily multiply in the warm, humid space. And after taking it off, without disinfection, you have a sewer on your hands. Congratulations!" says Hanefeld, a medical doctor from Bremervörde in northern Germany.
Weder Träger noch Patient/Berührter werden dirch med. Handschuhe geschützt. Vor und nach Gebrauch ist eine hygienis… https://t.co/jWdoxzpeGj— Dr. Marc Hanefeld (@Dr. Marc Hanefeld)1586071319.0
The pulmonary physician and internist Dr. Jens Mathews has a similar view. In a radio interview with German public broadcaster SWR3, he described disposable gloves as a "germ-slinger" for the coronavirus. Not only do they offer no protection, he says, but they are even counterproductive. In a very short time, a disposable glove accumulates many more bacteria on the surface than a freshly washed hand would, according to Mathews.
A very vivid description was also shared on social media by the scientist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, who explains how to use disposable gloves correctly and about the risks of incorrect use.
Based on what I’m seeing in my weekly grocery trip, people need a primer on how to use disposable gloves properly.… https://t.co/ThrYx24eer— Dr. Jacquelyn Gill (@Dr. Jacquelyn Gill)1586114251.0
For years, professor Dr. Ojan Assadian, president of the Austrian Society for Hospital Hygiene (ÖGKH), has also been warning against the incorrect use of disposable gloves.
"I would not even recommend the wearing of disposable gloves in everyday life to medically untrained people. It requires a certain amount of know-how and practice to take off disposable gloves in such a way that any microorganisms adhering to them remain on them and glove wearers do not smear them onto their hands, wrists or the sleeves of their outer clothing when taking them off," explains the hygienist and infectious disease specialist in an interview with the specialist magazine pflegen-online.de.
People who want to protect themselves and their fellow human beings from the coronavirus should therefore rather follow the now-familiar protective and hygienic measures and avoid disposable gloves. So: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap, keep your distance, stay at home …
Anyone who still wants to use disposable gloves should dispose of them properly afterward and not — as is unfortunately often observed at present — throw them away carelessly.
Coronavirus: Discarded disposable gloves on the street https://t.co/Vvk9AnKmax— BBC News (UK) (@BBC News (UK))1586302480.0
Thoughtlessly throwing away used disposable gloves or intentionally leaving them in shopping carts is negligent and antisocial. Germany's federal disease control and prevention agency, the Robert Koch Institute, recommends that they should be disposed of in the same way as face masks: in a closed bag in the non-recyclable waste bin.
Reposted with permission from DW.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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