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Cleaner than lava…

March 16, 2010

I think Reckitt Benckiser is out to wind me up. Now apparently they want my kitchen to be cleaner than a volcano.

I hate, hate, HATE it when advertisers present two true statements as if they were linked together. Yes, it’s true – and fascinating – that there are bacteria adapted to survive in near lava. And I’m prepared to believe this particular brand of cleaner kills 99.9 per cent of known bacteria (because surely someone would have reported them to the ASA by now otherwise). However (and I checked this with Ben Goldacre so as not to make an arse of myself) it’s incredibly unlikely that the bacteria that live in near lava will be living on your work surfaces – no matter how much you make burnt-on passata resemble a pool of magma.

Keep calm and carry on folks…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Annoyed Microbiologist permalink
    June 9, 2010 6:39 pm

    No bacteria, or other prokaryotic organism is able to live IN lava- near it yes, but not in it, considering the temperature of molten lava is 700 degrees C or more. The thermophilic record holder is currently an Archaea (not a bacterium) at 121 degrees C.

    D. A. Cowan (2004)
    The upper temperature for life – where do we draw the line?
    Trends in Microbiology Volume 12, Issue 2, February 2004, Pages 58-60

    So it’s not even a case of linking two unrelated facts- it’s a straightforward case of spreading untruths. Being an industrial scientist, i am acutely aware of how marketeers can and do make stuff up for good tag line, but it still winds me right up!

    • June 9, 2010 8:37 pm

      Thank you for that. I did wonder about the in lava myself (my five-year-old is currently obsessed both by lava and its temperature relative to other things – her tea, the sun etc – so have been looking up the actual temperature of lava) and it did seem pretty incredible. My Googling did only turn up bacteria surviving near lava – but I do know better than to presume the internet is the source of all knowledge. Now, I’m even more annoyed with them!

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