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Germ Warfare

[whitespace] Purell
Kills Cooties: Purell wipes out 99.9 percent of common germs in as little as 15 seconds.

Do you know where your hands have been?

By Diana Rupp

If you try to open public restroom doors with a paper towel or your pinkie finger after washing your hands, you're not alone. Germ phobia is spreading as quickly as the flu. A host of TV news magazine programs, like PrimeTime Live and 20/20, as well as movies like Outbreak, have capitalized on and fueled the obsessive-compulsive fear of everything from "flesh-eating" bacteria to E. coli-tainted juices.

Once used only in hospitals and restaurants, antibacterial products are a rapidly growing category at the corner drugstore. The Marketing Intelligence Service reported a whopping 177 new "antibacterial" products in early 1996, double the number of the year before. Although the hysteria is often disproportionate to the risk, germs do lurk everywhere--on ATM machines, pay phones and money. But how do you wash your hands when you're on the Muni?

Instant hand sanitizers, like Purell, wipe out 99.9 percent of common germs in as little as 15 seconds. The main ingredient, ethyl alcohol, eliminates all bacteria on the skin. Because alcohol tends to be drying, Purell contains moisturizing agents to keep hands soft and smooth.

Portable, inexpensive and convenient, Purell is the perfect germ assassin. "We stress the need for hand-washing compliance," says Purell spokesperson Megan Pace. "But the product is not meant to be used when there's a sink available. It's not a substitute for good old-fashioned soap and water."

Available at food, drug and mass market retail stores; $1.69 for 2 ounces or $3.79 for 8 ounces.

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From the May 4-17, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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