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Study of Hygiene in Inner-City Households

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Home Hygiene

This hygiene study identifies what helps and what may not.

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Doing laundry using hot water and bleach may prevent infections in the home, while drinking only bottled water may promote infections, according to research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institutes of Health that looked at ways to predict infectious disease symptoms in inner city households. The study, "Predictors of Infectious Disease Symptoms in Inner City Households," was led by Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, Associate Dean for Research at the School of Nursing, Columbia University, and appears in the May/June issue of the journal NURSING RESEARCH.

"This study may be the first to look at hygiene in the home," said Dr. Larson, "although research has been done in institutional settings such as nursing homes and day care centers. What is important is to identify which choices and habits actually help prevent disease, and which may either make no difference or actually promote disease."

Use of hot water for white laundry was found to be protective by reducing disease risk by about 30 percent. Bleach was also protective. Those who reported using bleach at the beginning of the study had about one-fourth the infection rate of those who did not. Other studies show that most washing machines are set at temperatures between 78