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Are Your Sunglasses Endangering Your Health?

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, a British car rental company teamed up with researchers from London Metropolitan University to conduct research on items people normally leave in their cars. What were the researchers looking for? If you guessed germs, you guessed correctly.

Reading the Daily Mail’s report on the research might lead you to believe that your sunglasses are threatening your health. Sunglasses were just one of 16 items researchers apparently looked at. The list included things like reusable grocery bags, baby pacifiers, gym clothes, and fast food packaging. And guess what? It is all littered with bacteria, fungus, and numerous additional nasties that could jeopardize the future of mankind as we know it.

Please excuse the sarcasm. It is just hard to ignore the obvious in a study like this. Bacteria is all around us. It always has been and always will be. Billions of people have survived since the dawn of the automobile even while leaving a variety of items in their cars. Moreover, some people keep their cars so junk-filled and messy that you wouldn’t know they were cars if not for the wheels.

  1. Sunglasses in a Warm Car

Researchers say that average interior car temperatures in London reached as high as 91°F this past summer. Unsurprisingly, warm and humid conditions tend to encourage certain types of germs. Bacteria and mold can do very well under just the right conditions. Science has known that for a long time. It is not news.

As for the items they tested, researchers focused on everyday items commonly left in cars. Sunglasses were just one item. To their surprise or delight – no one knows which one – they discovered that a typical pair of plastic sunglasses tested positive for a fungus and the staphylococcus epidermis bacteria, both of which can cause infections.

The Daily Mail doesn’t go on to explain what the researchers concluded form their findings. What is obviously missing from the Mail report is the fact that staphylococcus epidermis bacteria are a normal part of the human flora and commonly found on the skin. You and I carry these bacteria with us wherever we go.

So of course it would show up on sunglasses. Your sunglasses make contact with your skin, do they not? The fact that the bacteria is transferred to sunglasses and then multiplies in a warm car is neither abnormal nor a reason for alarm.

Furthermore, the good folks at Salt Lake City’s Olympic Eyewear explained that the plastics used to make sunglasses are the same plastics used in millions of consumer products. Any plastic product that came in contact with human skin could potentially have staphylococcus epidermis on it.

  1. Not All Germs Are Bad

As you might expect, the Daily Mail story ended with a long list of tips for protecting yourself against those nasty germs in your car. It included suggestions like regularly wiping down all interior surfaces with antibacterial wipes. Seriously? We’re supposed to give our cars a thorough cleaning every time we want to drive somewhere?

The challenge with these sorts of reports is that they make people unnecessarily afraid of nature. Not all germs are bad; that is a known fact. Likewise, being exposed to germs is not always bad either. Human bodies have a built-in immune system that, under normal circumstances, is capable of fighting off all sorts of germs.

Are your sunglasses jeopardizing your health? Unless you are a very rare exception to the rule, no. There is no need to panic because bacteria normally found on your skin is transferred to your shades.