A study, reported today in USA Today, checked for signs of germs in public places and confirmed what epidemiologists and folk wisdom alike had already believed: public hand-contact surfaces are crawling with germs.
It was a superficial study that didn’t attempt to distinguish between the natural germs found in dirt and the more dangerous germs that spread from person to person. It did not even distinguish between bacteria and fungi. It nevertheless found some interesting points.
The most problematic surfaces are outdoors or are items that aren’t cleaned every day. Vending machines, ATMs, and self-service gasoline pumps were the most likely to have a significant germ presence. Rest rooms, which typically are cleaned regularly, were cleaner than door knobs and computer keyboards and mice, which are not cleaned so often.
Scientists hope to find out more. In the meantime, their advice is about what you would expect, and is especially important as the flu season is upon us in the north. Wash your hands throughout the day and especially before eating and when you arrive at your destination after traveling or commuting. Clean your computer keyboard.