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The dangers of being ‘too clean’

January 9, 2017

Is it possible to be too clean? At the next STEM Café, “Getting Dirty: How Bacteria Impact and Improve Human Health,” NIU Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Sherine Elsawa will discuss germs, the immune system, and the impact of our near-constant soaping, scrubbing and sanitizing.

The free event will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Eduardo’s Mexican Restaurant, 214 E. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb.

“We’re often so obsessed with avoiding germs, or having our children avoid germs,” says Elsawa. “But germs are a crucial part of life. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so we don’t want to avoid them all. Over-sanitizing can actually have a negative impact on health.”

Elsawa will discuss how to avoid over-cleaning, especially when it comes to our children and their play environments.

“Advertisements for cleaning products can make us feel like we’re not cleaning enough,” says Judith Dymond, who coordinates the STEM Café series. “Elsawa will use her scientific expertise to cut through the marketing hype. People will learn how to protect themselves without overdoing it.”

Food and drink will be available for purchase from Eduardo’s.

Monthly STEM Cafés are one of many programs offered through NIU STEAM Works, part of the university’s Center for P-20 Engagement. Each café provides an opportunity to learn about the science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are a part of our everyday lives.

All STEM Cafés are free and open to the public. For more information, visit, or contact Judy Dymond at [email protected] or 779-777-7713.