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Everyone has a few things they always forget to clean.

Like the water bottle you take to the gym, or the coffee mug on your desk. Or, in many cases, your best-loved bong.

Notice a trend? They’re all:

  1. Things you use on a pretty regular basis; and
  2. Things you put up to your mouth; therefore
  3. Things that are probably covered in germs.

The germ-factor isn’t a big deal for the coffee cup or the water bottle, since you’re usually the only one using them. Most the germs on those things probably came from your mouth. It’s still gross not to wash them, but your own germs aren’t going to hurt you.

Now, about the bong.

That’s something you might share with other people. In that case, you should definitely consider taking time to clean water bong mouthpieces more frequently than you currently do.

Bong Germ Theory 101

Everyone’s body is home to millions of bacteria. Depending on oral hygiene, there are tens or hundreds of thousands to millions of germs in a person’s mouth alone.

Every time your lips touch something or someone, you pass some of those germs along. Most of them aren’t harmful; in fact, many of these bacteria are there to help keep harmful bacteria and viruses out.

But your mouth is can also be home to viruses (like HPV or Herpes Simplex) or bacteria (like gingivitis) that you don’t want to pass on to others.

That’s an often-forgotten issue with sharing a bong (or a joint, or any other device that gets passed around). The more people using it, the more people’s germs get spread around via the mouthpiece.

The first person to take a hit gets to enjoy a safe and sanitary bong mouthpiece. The next person gets to enjoy the first person’s germs. And so on.

Some users are conscious of this and use their lighter to sanitize the mouthpiece between hits. This will succeed in killing off any bacteria at the very end of the apparatus, but not those further down the neck. In other words, it’s a half-measure solution that still leaves some germs behind.

So What’s the Solution?

  1. Clean water bong mouthpieces after every sesh.
  2. Have everyone use a personal, safe and sanitary bong mouthpiece instead of sharing the glass.
  3. Wash that mouthpiece as often as you do the bong.

Frank Langella and friend in ROBOT & FRANK. Courtesy Sony Pictures.

The film ROBOT & FRANK is set in the near future and presents an age where senior citizens have their health care needs administered by sophisticated robot companions. Frank Langella plays an aging thief in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who initially resents his mechanical guardian, but then figures out a way to reprogram the robot and use it as an unwitting accomplice for future heists.

That aspect of the film is not very convincing, but ROBOT & FRANK is quite interesting in the way it plausibly presents a time where this sort of robot/human interaction is taken for granted. Last December, IBM announced a robot companion designed to aid seniors who live on their own. With the increasing number of aged people in both Canada and the United States, nursing care beds are growing scarce and wait lists are often oppressively long. Governments are now encouraging people to age in place for as long as possible and while this is good from a psychological standpoint, a person’s declining physical and mental health can make their home potentially dangerous.

IBM’s Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant has sensors that would detect changes in the environment that could pose a threat (eg. oven burners left on) and react accordingly. It could note when physical emergencies take place, such as a fall or worrisome vital signs.

Ideally, the units are most effective when they already possess a good deal of data about the person. As this can be difficult to obtain from some seniors, ambient censors would do much of the collection and the robot helper would then download the information.

Such companions are still a few years away from general use, but could prove to be a very important addition to health care. With the quantity of elderly people surpassing the number of children born each year in some countries, robots will have to step into caregiver roles previously assumed by family members and professional care workers.