Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Night, Sleep Tight .....

....and don't let the bed bugs bite. This was something my mom said to me every single night when she tucked me in as a child. But I always thought she was playing with me, never once picturing an actual bug crawling around in my bed. Well, she was teasing me then. But now is a different story. If you tell your child today to avoid the bite of a bed bug, they would really have something to fear and no way to avoid it. Bed bugs are real and they although they were gone for a long period of time, they are back and back with a vengeance. Bed bugs are small insects, a little bit bigger than a flea, and like the flea, their diet consists of the blood of their host. Unlike the flea though, bed bugs only feed on human blood and usually only in the dark of night while you are asleep.  When bitten, people find rashes, psychological effects and on occasion, severe allergic reactions. Although irritating and sometimes painful, most bite reactions can be treated with over the counter lotions and antihistamines.

     So where did the bugs come from, where did they go, and why are they back? Well the actual name for this pesky insect is C. lectularius and according to historical writings they have been around for thousands of years. They were thought to be useful in treating some medical conditions such as ear infections, snake bites and even hysteria. As the insect population grew to uncontrollable numbers though, it became clear that something had to be done to stop it. With the use of the pesticide DDT in the 1940's, bed bugs in the United States were all but completely wiped out.  Although this chemical worked wonders to eliminate the problems that these critters were causing, it was suspected in 1962 to be actually doing more harm than good.  Humans were increasingly developing more types of cancers and animals, mainly birds were dying at alarming rates.  Finally in 1972, after years of debate, DDT was banned worldwide for agricultural use. It was not until 1995 did we see an a return of the dreaded bed bug with a rise in reports of allergic reactions to it bite.

     So lets talk a bit about how you end up becoming a home for the bed bug. First of all you need to be very clear about the fact that you do not need to be a "dirty" person to have bed bugs just like you dont have to be dirty to get head lice. It just happens. They can find many ways to access your house and the most common is by catching a ride in on the back of your pet. They jump off or get knocked off and find their way to a corner of the room in the carpet, a couch, chair, or bed where they burrow in and wait for dinner. You can also unknowingly bring in a used piece of furniture that you have purchased which is already infested. They wait for their host to settle in and warm the bedding area and the carbon dioxcide that you emit calls them out for feeding time. They prefer to feed on human blood by piercing the skin with two hollow feeding tubes while you sleep. You may wake up in the morning with small red spots often in a straight line that are painful or itch.

     Since the outlawing of DDT, there are very few proven ways to kill bed bugs but I will give you a few suggestions that have been known to help in managing the infestations.

  •  Seal up all cracks in your house. Be sure to go around the light switch plates, door jams, window sills and moldings where the carpet meets the walls.
  • steam cleaning has been shown to kill some of the bugs because they cannot survive temperatures above 100 degrees ferenheight. ( Once the bug is dead, be sure to clean up the dead carcus to remove any live eggs left behind)
  • Vacuuming will not get rid of them all but will definately reduce the problem when done frequently.
  • Diatomaceous earth or D.E. is a pool filter aid but can be very effective in killing bed bugs. Dust your matress and furnishings liberally and then cover your matress with zip up cover.  Vacuum and repeat frequently. The D.E. is very sharp and cuts the bugs killing them.  This is not harmful to humans or pets because it is an extremely small particle.
  • When traveling, nevder place your luggage on the floor as bugs will jump inside or attach themselves to the outside and ride home with you.
  • If you have been traveling, place your clothes directly in the washer and then the dryer. Again, bed bugs cannot tolerate temperatures over 100 degrees.  Also be sure to vacuum your luggage thoroughly inside and out before storing.
  • After vacuuming your home, bedding or luggage, be  sure to carefully close up and dispose of the used vacuum bags so not to re-infect your home.
  • Finally, dont expect miracles because most strains of this insect are immune to the effect of most pesticides, but you can visit your local chemical store and ask what has been working best for their customers and how to use it properly.  Remember all pesticides are poison and need to be used according to direction.
     Again, just because you have bed bugs does not mean you are dirty. It means you are unfortunate enough to have had an encounter with this menacing pest. Even the cleanest kids had head lice and you will survive it. If you are human, you will inevitaby find yourself with something like this little pest at some point in your life. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reduced Size, Increased Price?

     Today's Alphanomics 101 lesson teaches us about how to save money, although it's not necessarily your money we will be learning how to save. Confused? Let me explain. 
     Your favorite laundry soap just got better! Smaller bottle, use less, 3 times more concentrated. Good news right? Does this sound familiar? We see it all the time, but how do we really know that it's better? Instead of a full cap, now you only need to use a half a cap full for the same amount of laundry. Did they really make it more concentrated or did they just add more fragrance so the clothes will smell just as good using only half the product? After all, if they smell clean they MUST be clean. We have no way of knowing if they made the product better or not, we have to take their word for it. We want to believe that the manufacturers wouldn't lie to us and rip us off, but the only thing we know for sure is that the bottles got smaller and the price went up.
     Laundry soap is not the only thing that has changed over the past few years. There are all types of products we use every day that seem to be getting packaging makeovers and pricing increases. Take trash bags for example. You may have noticed that when the price of fuel went up to over $4.00 a gallon in 2008, so did the price of can liners. That's because in order to produce plastics you have to use petroleum. Your kitchen garbage bags almost doubled in price so they started packing less bags in the boxes to help bring the price back down. The problem is that when fuel prices came back down the liner prices remained steady. Why are the companies that manufacture your laundry soap and trash bags paying less to produce them, yet they continue to charge you inflated prices? I wish I had the answer.
     What really had me stumped until recently though was how much the toilet tissue rolls have changed? Have you noticed that your toilet paper rolls are getting smaller and smaller? First of all, the center core or the cardboard roll has gotten bigger around by an eighth of an inch, obviously reducing the amount of sheets on each roll. In addition to reducing the number of sheets per roll, over the past decade we have seen Kimberly-Clark reduce the length of their sheets with Scott tissue from 4.5" down to 3.7", almost a full inch per sheet. The standard individual sheet of tissue used to be 4.5" x 4.5".  Not any more!     
     All companies have reduced their sheet size, but as of September 2009,  Georgia Pacific had gone so far as to reduce their sheets in the Angel Soft and Quilted Northern down by at least 1/2" in width which is creating a problem all it's own.  Many toilet paper dispensers are made spring loaded to go into the ends of the core and they depend on a roll at 4.5" minimum in order to hang onto that roll. As the rolls shrink in size, these dispensers are not able to connect with the center therefore causing the roll to fall out ending up on the floor, creating unsightly messes, unusable product, and financial losses for the home or business owner.  In addition, certain wall mounted dispensers are having to be replaced creating more inconvenience and expense.
      So why would the paper companies cause all of these unnecessary problems? Well there is one simple reason. Their bottom line. They don't really want to raise prices on their products because they know that the consumer will eventually switch to a cheaper brand and they need you to buy their product to stay in business. In order to keep prices low, they have to cut costs and the best way to cut costs is to cut back on the product. While they are cutting back on the size they are adding words like "Stronger" and "More Absorbent". This brings us back to the original question regarding the laundry soap. Just because the package says that it's better or stronger, is it really? Or are they just trying to cover the fact that they are making it smaller and giving you less while still charging the same amount of money?  Wouldn't it make sense that since they are saving money, they could pass some of that savings on to you?
     Lets brake it down and come to our own conclusion. We'll refer to Georgia Pacific as GP and the business and homeowner as BHO to keep it simple. So GP reduces products and packaging therefore saving space on the trucks and in return is able to add more product to the pallets, shipping more product in less space with less fuel consumption. Their suggested retail prices remain the same and GP walks away with a higher gross profit than ever before. Costs of Goods are down, Labor is down, Cost of Shipping is down, heck even the price of fuel is down from this time last year so we can mark this down for a WIN /WIN for GP. (* side note:  is it a coincidence that Georgia Pacific and Gross Profit both start with G & P? Ironic isn't it?)
     Now BHO is losing out on this deal hand over fist as his purchase is costing him more, he is receiving less, he has to hire a contractor to come in and remove old dispensers, install new dispensers, patch holes from the transfer of dispensers and then cleanup the mess. Also, he needs to add in any losses he has incurred due to wasted product. Sadly I am going to have to call this one a lose/lose for BHO.  Business and Home Owners start with BHO but I call it Barely Hanging On)
     The graph shown below was taken from CNN-Money.com and clearly shows the major changes that have taken place with the toilet tissue industry alone.

We can apply the same theories to other companies and their respective products and conclude that while we understand the need for big corporations to find ways to save money, to be able to keep employees in their jobs and to remain able to buy the supplies to produce the products, we the consumer have no choice but to continue to purchase and pay the price that is requested. I can only hope that someday soon, somebody else will come up with a better idea and we can all stop flushing our money down the toilet.
                                       Until then friends, Good Luck.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MRSA More Common in US Than UK

     MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) bacteria is thriving in the United States according to Reuters, reporting on government data. This data shows that Americans are more likely by six times to contract the highly drug resistant bug than in the UK where it was first discovered.
     MRSA caused severe infections in an estimated 95,000 Americans in 2005, and of those infected more than 18,000 died. About 29 out of every 100,000 people contract the MRSA infection in the United States every year compared to 11 in the United Kingdom, according to the Journal of Clinical Infectious Disease. 
     People can carry the MRSA bacteria on their skin or the inside of the nostrils without getting sick. But once the skin is pierced, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause the person to become infected. This has been one reason why three quarters of American people have been more likely to become sick during or after being treated in or admitted to a hospital setting. Americans are twice as likely than Britons to have been on dialysis and they are more commonly to have diabetes or had had a central intravenous line inserted by a health care provider. These facts lead us to believe that both medical care, and the patient type between the two countries are important factors. The CDC in 20007 reported that MRSA infections were 100 times more common in these groups of patients than in the general population.
     Studies have shown that the US has been lagging behind European countries in terms of infection control. The Netherlands for instance, has long been screening people for MRSA before admitting them to hospitals.  If they carry the bug, then they are quarantined so they wont infect others. While some hospitals in the US have implemented such a system, they are far and few between. Still, over the past 10 years, US hospitals have introduced several measures aimed at preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as requiring staff to wash their hands with soap before inserting a catheter into a patient. It is possible that these measures are paying off as the CDC earlier this year reported that hospital MRSA infections have dropped since 2005.*

Last year, when H1N1 and MRSA were prevalent and the country was experiencing a shortage of antibacterial soaps and instant hand sanitizers, we all learned a very valuable lesson. Super bugs are more and more common and the next one is just over the horizon. Everyone panicked and scrambled to get their hands on as much as they could thus creating a dangerous shortage of one of the few things that help stop the spread of the deadly bacteria. The lesson learned here is that we should not wait for a super bug to attack the country before we take action. Proper hand washing is a vital tool in keeping the spread of disease under control. Now is the time to become educated on proper handwashing procedures and keep an ample supply on hand in the event of another epidemic.  It stands to reason that if hospitals, schools and other larger institutions are now equipped with the soaps and sanitizers, we should all follow suit and get setup with dispensers and the products to fill them. We all need to be washing our hands regularly and businesses need to require their employees to wash after using the restrooms and before returning to their work stations. 
     It seems that people only have the thought to wash their hands when there is a concern of catching a nationally reported on disease. But once the media lets go of the story and the threat is no longer front and center on television or newspapers, we relax our hand washing habits and it is then inevitable that the next new super bug strain comes on with a vengeance and spreads like wildfire. If we can keep the public aware of the importance of hand washing, we may be able to prevent the next killer bacteria.
     Sanitizers and antibacterial soaps come in many sizes and dispensing systems. Foam soaps and sanitizers are extremely economical to purchase and last twice as long in the dispenser as regular liquids do.  The liquid is infused with air through the dispenser and makes what looks like a large amount in the palm of your hand.  They are not messy either as they do not leak and drip all over the counter or floor.  Original liquid soaps are also available in different sizes like 8 ounce bottles up to gallons jugs and can be used to fill wall and counter dispensers or left by the sink in disposable bottles. Cartridges are bags of soap that snap into dispensers on the wall and are clean and not only easy to change but also to dispose of. Bar soaps are sold in varying sizes from half ounce and up for apartments and hotels rooms to be thrown away and replaced for next guest to 4 ounce bars for your home.
     Alpha Chemical and Janitorial Supply, Inc. has all types of soaps and dispensers for you to purchase. The dispensers all come with mounting hardware but most simply are applied with included double stick tape.  Please visit our website for more information on the all the soaps and dispensers that we have discussed here today.  If you need further assistance, feel free to contact one of our customer service agents by email or calling 239-594-3515 Monday though Friday 8am-5pm. We look forward to being of assistance to you now and at any time in the future.

*information taken in part from cleanlink.com November 3,2010 issue

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bringing You Up To Speed

   Alpha Chemical and Janitorial Supply, Inc. now has a showroom on-line. Visit us on-line at the link above today to set up your business account or person account and save 10% off your first order. We never charge for local delivery and use FedEx for long distant orders. This means little to no down time.

We are southwest Florida's #1 Sales, Service and Repair dealer for most Industrial floor machines and vacuums. FREE estimates. FAST service. Call 239-594-2992 for FREE pick up and delivery.

     NEW Wood Floor Care Line
Alpha Chemical has partnered with Hillyard to provide a high quality wood floor care line. These products leave your wood floors  clean, conditioned and protected against the heavy traffic that can damage the natural grain and beauty. Visit our online showroom for a complete list of Hillyard products in gallon or arsenal chemical dispensing form. Alpha Chemical is the EXCLUSIVE AUTHORIZED DEALER for HILLYARD in ALL of Southwest Florida.

     NEW Windsor I-Capsol Carpet Cleaner
The Windsor I-Capsol Carpet Cleaner leaves your carpet CLEAN AND DRY in about 20 minutes! This NEW cleaning technology surface cleans your carpet with minimal amouts of liquid, encapulates the dirt and dries quickly to eliminate the possibility of developing mold and mildew. Call us to set up a FREE demo today! Alpha Chemical is the  EXCLUSIVE AUTHORIZED DEALER  for WINDSOR INDUSTRIES in ALL of Southwest Florida.

     GREEN Seal Certified Products
Just because it's green in color doesn't mean it is Green Seal Certified. Contact Alpha Chemical and Janitorial Supply, Inc. for the latest information on Green Seal Certified products. We hav the Facts on GOING GREEN!

     Now that you know a little about Alpha Chemical, give us a call at
239-594-3515 and ask any one of our highly trained customer service agents about ALL of the products we carry and services we provide. They will be happy to assist you. Don't forget, visit our NEW ON-LINE SHOWROOM,
register to become a customer and receive 10% off your first order. We look forward to seeing you there!