Hospitals may seem immune to germs and infections, but a new study revealed that hospital elevator buttons have more germs than bathrooms.
Here are nine other seemingly harmless objects that are dirty, dirtier or the dirtiest.
1. Drinking fountain buttons
Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, swabbed almost 5000 surfaces in offices with at least 3000 employees. He measured adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels to ascertain the filthiness of each object. An object with an ATP level of 100 is considered dirty. As much as 23 percent of water fountain buttons had ATP levels of 300. The thought makes you want to clean your apartment.
A small study in England swabbed 13 items at a suburban home. One of the items they tested was the gearshift in a 3-year-old Saab. Due to the extended amount of quality time one’s hand spends with a gearshift, it is no surprise the study found high levels of mold and bacteria.
Ever wondered how many hands have hugged the very pen that has conducted countless oral examinations? Dr. Neil Schachter, a pulmonary disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, says it is best to carry your own pen and “use it instead of the doctor’s, the delivery guy’s or the restaurant waiter’s.”
4. Refillable soap dispensers
Researchers from the University of Arizona sampled 132 refillable soap dispensers from public restrooms. They found Serratia marcescens, Enterobacter aerogenes and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These are disease-carrying pathogens. To answer your next question: no, the soap does not kill the bacteria. In fact, the bacteria are enjoying the soapy environment kind of like how we enjoy Thanksgiving.
5. Escalator handrails
Scientists have found some interesting things on escalator handrails, such as blood, mucus, urine and feces to name a few. Just to top off that list, scientists have also found E. coli and upper respiratory bugs. Stay active. Choose the stairs.
6. Washing machine
Charles Gerba not only ruined drinking fountain buttons for everyone, but also washing machines. He found that a load of undergarments transfers about 500 million E. coli bacteria to the machine. Keep in mind that front-loading machines do not expel all of the water from the previous wash. It is probably best to run a few cycles of water and bleach.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that in Los Angeles, three of every four paper bills are tainted by cocaine or another illegal drug. If that is not disturbing enough, a study, conducted in 2002, found disease-causing bacteria present on 94 percent of $1 bills. Credit cards are not much better either. Trading horses and pigs as currency does not sound so bad anymore.
8. Light switch
Light switches sometimes are littered with 217 bacteria/square inch. Invest in lights that turn off with a clap. They are awesome and less germy.
9. Shopping carts
The University of Arizona found more bacteria, saliva, and fecal matter on shopping carts than escalators, public telephones, and public bathrooms. Perhaps make your children walk from now on, rather than ride in the cart.