Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on October 26, 2011
A new study has found that the gas pump is the germiest, filthiest thing we touch in everyday life. That’s according to Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona — and he should know. A microbiologist, he’s known by the nickname “Dr. Germ.”
In research results released Tuesday, Gerba found that 71% of gas pump handles and 68% of corner mailbox handles are “highly contaminated” with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness. The study, reported in USA Today, says that 41% of ATM buttons and 43% of escalator rails are similarly teeming with germs.
Other highly contaminated places that many people probably never considered before, and now might fear using, are parking meters and kiosks, about 40% of which are fouled by germs. Crosswalk buttons and vending machines were tied at 35%.
As part of the study, hygienists swabbed suspected germ hotspots and then analyzed the findings. They used general industry sanitary standards as their benchmark, according to Gerba.
Gerba joined forces with Kimberly-Clark Professional’s Healthy Work Place Project, a subsidiary of the manufacturer of tissues, hand sanitizer and the like. (The project’s website says sick employees cost the average business about $1,320 per employee.)