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Chemistry science fair project:
Which hand cleaner is the most effective?





Science Fair Project Information
Title: Which hand cleaner is the most effective?
Subject: Chemistry
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 2nd place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (2010)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Description: With the use of Glo Germ Gel the effectiveness of different hand cleaners was tested. The different hand cleaners tested were alcohol sanitizer, non-alcohol sanitizer, regular hand soap, antibacterial soap.
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2010/nortxb2
Short Background

Hand Washing

Hand washing for hand hygiene is the act of cleansing the hands with or without the use of water or another liquid, or with the use of soap, for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, and/or microorganisms.

Medical hand hygiene pertains to the hygiene practices related to the administration of medicine and medical care that prevents or minimizes disease and the spreading of disease. The main medical purpose of washing hands is to cleanse the hands of pathogens (including bacteria or viruses) and chemicals which can cause personal harm or disease. This is especially important for people who handle food or work in the medical field, but it is also an important practice for the general public. People can become infected with respiratory illnesses such as influenza or the common cold, for example, if they don't wash their hands before touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated: "It is well-documented that one of the most important measures for preventing the spread of pathogens is effective hand washing." As a general rule, handwashing protects people poorly or not at all from droplet- and airborne diseases, such as measles, chickenpox, influenza, and tuberculosis. It protects best against diseases transmitted through fecal-oral routes (such as many forms of stomach flu) and direct physical contact (such as impetigo).

In addition to hand washing with soap and water, the use of alcohol gels is an effective form of killing some kinds of pathogens.

The application of water alone is inefficient for cleaning skin because water is often unable to remove fats, oils, and proteins, which are components of organic soil. To remove pathogens, two gallons of water per minute is needed in washing hands using flowing water. Therefore, removal of microorganisms from skin requires the addition of soaps or detergents to water. Currently most products sold as "soaps" are actually detergents, so that is the substance most used to wash hands.

Antibacterial soaps have been heavily promoted to a health-conscious public. To date, there is no evidence that using recommended antiseptics or disinfectants selects for antibiotic-resistant organisms in nature. However, antibacterial soaps contain common antibacterial agents such as Triclosan, which has an extensive list of resistant strains of organisms. So, even if antibacterial soaps aren't selected for antibiotic resistant strains, they might not be as effective as they are marketed to be. A comprehensive analysis from the University of Oregon School of Public Health indicated that plain soaps are as effective as consumer-grade anti-bacterial soaps containing triclosan in preventing illness and removing bacteria from the hands.

A hand sanitizer or hand antiseptic is a non-water-based hand hygiene agent. In the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century, Alcohol rub non-water-based hand hygiene agents (also known as alcohol-based hand rubs, antiseptic hand rubs, or hand sanitizers) began to gain popularity. Most are based on isopropyl alcohol or ethanol formulated together with a thickening agent such as Carbomer into a gel, or a humectant such as glycerin into a liquid, or foam for ease of use and to decrease the drying effect of the alcohol.

Glo Germ Gel

The Glo Germô Kit contains a bottle of liquid or gel, a bottle of powder, and an ultra-violet lamp. The liquid or gel and the powder contain the plastic simulated germs, and the lamp illuminates them to test the effectiveness of hand cleaners.

For handwashing training, Glo Germô Liquid is rubbed onto oneís hands like lotion. Then hands are washed as normal. The ultra-violet light will discover the remaining artificial germs.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_washing

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)


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