Since we moved to NYC and sold our car, the subway has become a major part of our life. Between stair rails, elevator buttons, seats, and subway poles, my kids are introduced to a lot more germs than ever before. Is that a bad thing? Geneticist and author Chris Mason thinks not, even suggesting a parent should "roll their child on the floor of the New York subway." His study on subway bacteria was published earlier this year, and it should be a comfort to germaphobes (despite the scary numbers!). The exposure to different bacteria influence the presence in our microbiome of specific beneficial microbes, boosting our immune system.
We are trying to be in a good hand-washing habit, and I use homemade hand sanitizer (aloe gel with witch hazel and lavender and tea tree essential oils) when out and about. I avoid commercial products with triclosan, and alcohol-based sanitizers, which disrupt the protective acid mantle on our skin. My goal is to be cautious and wise but not fear the microbes!