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Let’s get dirty – scientists encourage fighting the fear of dirt

Posted April 28, 2017

Entire life we‘ve been told to keep ourselves clean. Washing your hands after coming from outside now is a must and everyone does it or, as we think, has to do it. However, does mud really matter that much? Scientists from Victoria University of Wellington explained that dirt may have a totally effect on our lives than most people think.

Getting dirty is good for your health and helps you learn. Image credit: Marines from Arlington via Wikimedia

Every time we see children play in the mud our natural response is to either warn them or rush to wash their hands. Just in case – we want to protect them from harmful bacteria that we are certain there is plenty of in the mud. But it is not just children. Advertising of various products taught us to hate dirt. It is a way to promote people’s consumerist behaviour – there are so many different products set out to combat dirt using various methods.

But is dirt really that bad? Do we need several different chemical products to battle it out of our lives? Scientists say that dirt’s reign of terror over consumers might be coming to an end. People are encouraged to embrace the idea of getting their hands dirty – to go out and play in the sand or even plant a little vegetable garden. Scientists are not sure whether companies are leading the way or they are just following social trends – people want to go out and do stuff without fear of getting dirty.

In fact, scientists are about to get dirty too. It will be necessary to combat a growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Most antibiotics were produced from bacteria found in soil. Dr Jeremy Owen, a senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, said: “as resistance to these existing antibiotics grows, we need to turn to the hidden bacteria that can’t be cultured in a lab setting, and borrow their genetic blueprints. We can then transfer those blueprints to another bacteria we can grow in the lab, with the hope they are able to read the instructions and create new antibiotics”.

Scientists are also urging for a change in education systems, to encourage children and teenagers to get their hands dirty. It not just that people don’t know how to make or repair anything anymore, but they also miss out on opportunity to learn in a more physical way. Scientists say that drama, music and technology could help learn so much more, if people were willing to get dirty.

And what about children again? They will be fine in the dirt. That is how children get to know the world and introduce their immune systems to a large variety of bacteria at once. Dirt makes them stronger, smarter and, hopefully, more fun.


Source: Victoria University of Wellington

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