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Ford declares war on car cooties

Ford teams with the University of Michigan to fight the little buggers.


As a businessman on the road for 15 weeks a year I used to rent dozens of cars. The first thing I would do when I got into my renta-ride was wipe the steering wheel and other surfaces with an alcohol wipe. "Why?", you may ask. Car cooties. As many people know, microbes, viruses, and other little buggers can stay alive for quite a while on the surfaces we all share contact with.

Car Cooties Are Real

If you think that this is simply germ-phobia, please consider this statement by the University of Michigan’s Dr. Blaise Boles, assistant professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology “Our findings suggest car interiors are complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment. The long-term goal is to define the microbial ecology of the car interior and to optimize the design of car interiors to promote comfort and environmental sustainability.” Adding to this, Cindy Peters of Ford commented on where the little critters are found most commonly “We weren’t surprised to find microbial hot spots on the steering wheel, since that is where a driver’s hands are most of the time. The console area near the cupholders is a common location for spilled drinks, so it provides an ideal feeding ground for microbes.”

Agion Silver-ion Treatments
It isn’t just colds and stomach flu-viruses that the Ford team is trying to battle back either. It is odor and discoloration. We drag water and nutrients into the cabin each time we step into our cars. Condensation also helps to provide the mold and mildews inside the car with what they need to thrive. These cause odors which Ford says Americans try to ward off with over $2.3 Billion in air fresheners and similar car products. Those simply mask the odor. They do not actually help solve the problem. To make the cabin more microbe-free Ford is trying a plastics and paint additive product called Agion. Agion is a silver-ion additive product that acts as a natural birth control for microorganisms. It also starves and helps suffocate them. Silver-ion products are proven effective. In CamelBak canteens such products have been incorporated by supplier Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics to keep the drinking hose free from microorganisms. Silver-ion treatments are also used in toilet ceramics to keep bowls from needing cleaning so often. Peters went on to say “We can’t control everything that contributes to stains and odors in our cars and trucks, but we’re doing our part to maintain a pleasant cabin environment for our customers over the long haul.”

Hand Sanitizer For Your Steering Wheel
If this program has good results it might help those like the author who spend over $1 billion annually on sanitizing gels and similar products to keep the car cooties off our bodies.