Is bacteria on counters a problem for you?

StainlesskenhiveyI love the look of this stainless steel countertop and sink, which I found in today’s Real Estate section. Looking for cleaner kitchen surfaces explains how homeowners worried about bacteria choose this and other counter products for their antibacterial properties.

Other materials mentioned include glass, copper and quartz composites like Silestone. Some of these products even have chemicals embedded into them to fight bacteria.

Of course natural stone counters take a hit, as do tile and grout. And butcher block? Forget about it.

But I wonder if we’re taking this bacteria thing a little far. I read a fascinating book, "The Dispossessed," about people who have multiple chemical sensitivities who have to live in stainless steel rooms. Are we headed there? And an article in today’s Washington Post asks: Are antimicrobial soaps breeding tougher bugs?

That article quotes Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University School of Medicine, who questions why antibacterial ingredients are increasingly used in healthy households with no demonstrated benefits. The article continues:

That’s happening, Levy says, despite several "potential negative consequences" of these products, including weakening the immune system, which could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children, and their possible link to the emergence of antibiotic resistance — the very problem that is making some diseases, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, so difficult to treat.

What do you think? Are we taking this too far? Or not far enough?

Photo by Ken Hivey / Los Angeles Times