Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Germs Are Not Necessarily the Issue

re-post

A lot of people think those who ask for shoes-off in their homes are 'germaphobes.' It is certainly true that a lot of people who have a shoes-off policy are parents of small children who are concerned about germs being walked in on peoples' shoes. This is a quite legitimate concern.

This concern is often countered by the so-called 'hygiene hypothesis.' This holds that allergies are currently on the rise because peoples' homes are too clean and modern children are not sufficiently exposed to bacteria. There is evidence to support this theory, even if the jury is still out.

Even assuming that the 'hygiene hypothesis' is correct, there is no obvious way to decide how much dirt is healthy. Very few parents would be happy about cooking in a dirty kitchen, or having their children sleep in filthy rooms. While some bacteria is good and healthy, some bacteria can cause all sorts of diseases.

More importantly, there are some things that your shoes pick up that are not germs, but very much in the unwanted category: lead, pesticide, weed killer, dog excrement, roundworms, dust, pollen, plant sap, mold, toxoplasmosis (a parasite which is transmitted through animal excrement and which can survive in infected soil), cigarette ash, arsenic, mecury, asbestos, cadmium and thallium.

Simply put, your shoes can pick up anything. Please keep them out of the house.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like your blog, I really hope people pick this "shoes off thing" up and start using it!

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks a lot for visiting and leaving your comment.

Where in the world do you come from?

Ellie said...

It's so much more comfy to be in socks or stockinged feet anyway.

Like others I do in in the office as well.

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks for visiting, Ellie.

What do you think about people adopting a no-shoes rule?

Ellie said...

I really wish it was more acceptable in the UK.

Matthew Celestis said...

I don't think its unacceptable in the UK.

If you go on Mumsnet you will see a lot of hateful reactions to shoes-off rules, but personally I don't know anybody who would find it objectionable. I know a few people who do definitely ask for shoes off.

What is your experience?

Ellie said...

I am from France where it is much more common in homes and other places as well.

I used to work in St Nazaire as manageress of a furniture shop. Always, in the shop I would change from shoes into slippers.

Matthew Celestis said...

I might have expected it to be slightly more common in the UK than in France (except in the Alpine region) but I am happy to be corrected.

Sabine said...

I think Ellie is correct.

Shoes removal in homes and for that offices or changing to wear slippers is considered much more normal in France.

Matthew Celestis said...

Sabine, thanks for visiting.

But would that be the same for southern France.

Sabine said...

I am from the north but I think the same is true of the south.

French women love their heels, but often carry slippers in their bag for comfort.

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks.

I remember visiting the palace of Versailles in 1997 and all the women seemed to have taken off their shoes and were walking on the grass barefoot. I suppose some of them were foreign tourists, but I imagine a lot of them were French.

Anonymous said...

You often see that in parks in the uk in warm weather- office girls at lunchtime etc.

Matthew Celestis said...

Sometimes, yes.

Are you an anonymous who has commented before? You can use a name or nickname by selecting name/url when commenting.

Sandro said...

To Ellie and Sabine, is it common for France to remove shoes when visitIng other people's hones not to scratch floor and not to bring dirt in?

Ellie said...

Sandro,

Yes you are correct.

Also, personally I prefer slippers or stockinged feet indoors.

Matthew Celestis said...

It is interesting how I hear conflicting things about countries.

I have heard from some people on the net that in France people generally don't take their shoes off in homes.

Sandro said...

Ellie, thank you for the feedback.

Mary said...

We're not so much germophobes, as we are wanting to keep our carpeting and floors clean. I love walking around in white socks and having them stay white. Wearing shoes also adds wear and tear.

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