Killing Germs

In Hospitals, Air Ducts with Silver-Based Coating Stay Germ-Free

September 1, 2005 — Preventing hospital infections — from such stubborn bugs as Staphylococcus aureus — could get a little easier with a new non-toxic, silver-based material. Used in coating, it helps keep hospital air ducts bacterium- and fungus-free. The material is also used in a number of products including athletic footwear, door hardware, pens and business supplies.

DUARTE, Calif.–For more than 6,000 years, humans have used silver to fight germs, also known as microbes. Now, some hospitals are using a silver compound to reduce hospital infections.

You can’t see them, but millions of microorganisms are living quietly among us, in places where we least expect them.

Cancer patient Steve Measer worries about germs a lot. “In the last two months I have been in three separate hospitals.” But at the Helford Clinical Research Hospital at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., where he is receiving treatment, microbes are hard to find.

Dr. James Miser, Chief Executive Officer at City of Hope National Medical Center, says, “The room which we are currently standing is as free of germs as medically possible in a hospital.”

This is possible because the ducts delivering air to patients’ rooms are coated with a silver-based anti-microbial compound called AgION. It can kill bacteria, viruses and fungus. Jeffrey Trogolo, Chief Technology Officer at AgION Technologies, Inc. in Wakefield, Mass., says, “When the conditions are right, it turns on, and that’s where the silver comes out.”
Agion technologies is using silver, a centuries-old germ killer, in a unique compound to coat surfaces and instruments that could spread disease. When bacteria are detected, the compound releases silver ions to the surface, killing existing microbes and any new ones that come along. “We have virtually no organisms grown,” Dr. Miser says.

It’s potent enough to kill germs, but is safe to use on virtually any surface. Trogolo says, “It’s less toxic than table salt and less irritating than talcum powder. Ultimately we hope this will result in less infections and actually better outcomes for the patients.”

The silver compound can also kill germs in your kitchen, on shopping cart handles, even in your sneakers. It’s already used in a number of products including athletic footwear, door hardware, pens and business supplies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of environmental and health data in eight states


The Center for Public Integrity is a public interest investigative journalism organization. This group has recently obtained copies of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of environmental and health data in eight states that was scheduled to be published in July 2007. The report revealed elevated rates of lung, colon, and breast cancer; low birth weight; and infant mortality in several geographical areas. It has not yet been published.

A few days before the study was to be released it was pulled. In addition, at the same time its lead author, Christopher De Rosa, was removed from the position he held since 1992. The Center for Public Integrity wants to know why.

The study is called “Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern.” It was developed by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in response to a request by the International Joint Commission (an independent U.S.-Canadian organization that monitors and advises both governments on the quality of the boundary waters).

The report combines two sets of data: environmental data on known “areas of concern” (including hazardous waste dumps) and health data collected by county and sometimes smaller geographical regions.
The study does not try to address cause and effect. Instead, it shows areas for more study and data collection with the link between pollution and health.

Various drafts of this study have been reviewed by experts since 2004. Several experts who reviewed the study have recommended publication of the report.

The suspicion is that the findings were being suppressed because they were “inconvenient”. With any whisper of “injury” comes liability. Liability implies damages, legal processes, as well as costs of remedial action. The governments of both countries are so heavily aligned with the chemical industries that they do not want any evidence of injury to be released.

It is possible that the publication was halted due to orders outside the CDC. The Bush administration may be trying once again to shrink government by ensuring that a federal agency doesn’t do its job. Corporate interests are repeatedly being protected at the expense of our country’s citizens. This administration has regularly cut funds so that statistics that could possibly embarrass them politically are not found.

The CDC has stated that the report was held back due to internal and external reviewers identifying “numerous discrepancies and deficiencies.” They determined a careful review was necessary. Apparently, the CDC plans to release the report after the review is completed.

Some discrepancies include the fact that the county-level health data “reflected people’s illnesses from 1988 to 1997, while much of the environmental data used in the report came from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory dated 2001 and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system with 2004 data.”
The CDC did not clarify why these issues were not identified until July 2007 even though there were several years of review.

As many as 9 million people (including residents of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee) may be at risk from exposure to pollutants. This would include pesticides, dioxin, PCBs, and mercury.

This is pertinent information, not only for the people directly involved in this geographical area, but for every U.S. citizen. We deserve to have this information and to know whether exposure to these chemicals is harming us.

About the author
Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 40 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!

Earth’s Hum Sounds More Mysterious Than Ever

Charles Q. Choi – Special to

Earth gives off a relentless hum of countless notes completely imperceptible to the human ear, like a giant, exceptionally quiet symphony, but the origin of this sound remains a mystery.

Now unexpected powerful tunes have been discovered in this hum. These new findings could shed light on the source of this enigma.

The planet emanates a constant rumble far below the limits of human hearing, even when the ground isn’t shaking from an earthquake. (It does not cause the ringing in the ear linked with tinnitus.) This sound, first discovered a decade ago, is one that only scientific instruments – seismometers – can detect. Researchers call it Earth’s hum.

Investigators suspect this murmur could originate from the churning ocean, or perhaps the roiling atmosphere. To find out more, scientists analyzed readings from an exceptionally quiet Earth-listening research station at the Black Forest Observatory in Germany, with supporting data from Japan and China.

Different types

In the past, the oscillations that researchers found made up this hum were “spheroidal” – they basically involved patches of rock moving up and down, albeit near undetectably.

Now oscillations have been discovered making up the hum that, oddly, are shaped roughly like rings. Imagine, if you will, rumbles that twist in circles in rock across the upper echelons of the planet, almost like dozens of lazy hurricanes.

Scientists had actually expected to find these kinds of oscillations, but these new ring-like waves are surprisingly about as powerful as the spheroidal ones are. The expectation was they would be relatively insignificant.

New thinking

This discovery should force researchers to significantly rethink what causes Earth’s hum. While the spheroidal oscillations might be caused by forces squeezing down on the planet – say, pressure from ocean or atmospheric waves – the twisting ring-like phenomena might be caused by forces shearing across the world’s surface, from the oceans, atmosphere or possibly even the sun.

Future investigations of this part of the hum will prove challenging, as “this is a very small signal that is hard to measure, and the excitation is probably due to multiple interactions in a complex system,” said researcher Rudolf Widmer-Schnidrig, a geoscientist at the University of Stuttgart, Germany.

Still, a better understanding of this sound will shed light on how the land, sea and air all interact, he added.

Researcher Dieter Kurrle and Widmer-Schnidrig detailed their findings March 20 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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