Have we become too clean? New research blames the rise in childhood allergies on our culture's obsession with cleanliness. Find about about "dirt vaccines" and some new germ theories, in this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge.
Has modern American culture become too clean? TTBOOK Producer Anne Strainchamps went hunting for the dirt on the subject after reading Gary Hamilton's story "Let Them Eat Dirt" in the July issue of "New Scientist." She tells Jim Fleming that she discovered all our efforts to clean up may be making us sicker after all. But before you throw in the sponge, listen to microbiologist Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona. He tells Judith Strasser most people's houses just aren't clean enough.SEGMENT 2:
Margaret Horsfield has reported for the BBC, CBC and Manchester Guardian. Now she's written a book called "Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework." She tells Jim Fleming that how we clean reveals a lot about us; that many people clean when they're upset; and that cleaning can be a way to reclaim personal space. Also, one of the most frightening new germ theories in recent years showed up on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly. Biologist Paul Ewald suggests to Steve Paulson that heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer's may be caused by infections.SEGMENT 3:
Judith Walzer Leavitt teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of "Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public's Health." Leavitt tells Judith Strasser about Mary Mallon whose status as a healthy carrier of the typhoid bacillus created a public health dilemma we still haven't solved. Also, Stewart O'Nan has written "A Prayer for the Dying," which critics are calling "a philosophical horror novel." He tells Jim Fleming it's about a diptheria epidemic in Wisconsin right after the Civil War.Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 99-04-11-B.
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