I’ve always been a germaphobe. In my 20s, I saw a pillowcase magnified thousands of times on TV. I used to tell everyone I met about the jungle they subjected their faces to every night. In my 30s, I became obsessed with keeping my toothbrush clean from the aerial microbe spray of my toilet flushing; I gave each of my family members a VioLight Toothbrush Sanitizer for Christmas. (No one liked it.) I have lots of other Hughes-ian affects, like opening the public restroom door with a paper towel and never drinking water (or tea or ice cubes) from an airplane.
Now, I always ask people to take their shoes off when entering my tiny bungalow in Venice, Calif. After all, I watch the pets use my front lawn as a toilet, which sometimes, and sometimes not, is detected by their owners. (You’ve seen the movie I Love You, Man, right? Where Jason Segel refuses to clean up after his dog? That’s where I live.) The shoes-off policy annoys most of my friends.
But now I have real ammunition to battle their annoyance and a new tool to combat the crap and bugs that hitchhike on shoes. Turns out researchers at the University of Arizona found nine different species of bacteria on the soles of people’s shoes, including E-coli and bacteria that can cause infections in our stomachs, eyes and lungs. Then the researchers tested to see if the bacteria transferred to tiles in a home, 90% of them did. This prompted Good Morning America to do its own testing, which found that nine out of 10 times there was coliform present, which is “a type of bacteria that comes mostly from human and animal waste,” according to the GMA website. It gets worse if you have carpeting. And if you have infants, well, they put their hands in their mouths up to 80 times an hour. You get the picture.
So we should definitely remove shoes when entering a home, as should our guests, no matter how awkward it is to ask them. But this isn’t enough.
“There is no such thing as a shoeless home,” Robert Kassel, an investor-turned-entrepreneur tells LivingHealthy. Even when we do remove shoes, the bacteria are on our hands, in the closet, in the foyer, and they spread in the air. He believes he has solved the problem by inventing a device that uses safe UVC light, known as the germicidal wavelength, to kill bacteria on the soles of shoes upon entering a home. Kassel created HeatlhySole after two near-death experiences, one of which resulted from sepsis.
Here’s how it works. Simply stand on the square HealthySole device and blue UVC disinfects the soles of your shoes in 8 seconds. Then the blue lights goes off. Wladyslaw Kowalski, PhD, and expert in clean air systems and airborne diseases, says on the HealthySole website that UVC technology “can effectively destroy germs like Flu, Strep, MRSA and Ebola on the soles of your shoes.”
Kassel is most excited about the prospect of hospitals using HealthySole, since infections developed in hospitals is on the rise, as is the resistance of the superbugs we’ve created. Two deaths in February 2015 in a Los Angeles hospital are being blamed on the superbug CRE, and up to 200 people were exposed to this deadly micro-creature. Elderly facilities are another likely target for HealthySole, due to the inhabitants’ compromised immune systems.
And forget the Welcome Mat in front of your door, says Kassel. It’s good for getting the mud off, but that’s about it. It may be the most hazardous accessory in your home.
Oh, it turns out that VioLight toothbrush sanitizer I gave as gifts also uses UV light to kill bacteria. Just sayin’.