The Germiest Places You Can Touch!

Kimberly-Clark recently had trained Hygienists go round swapping for germs in high traffic areas of major cities like L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta as part of it’s Healthy Workplace Project.

The Hygienists swabbed a total of 350 surfaces looking for high levels of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells and indicates contamination by any of these organisms.

What they found will totally surprise you!

 Here are the germiest public places swabbed with levels of ATP high enough to make you sick!

  • 71% of gas pump handles,

  • 68% of mailbox handles,

  • 43% of escalator rails,

  • 41% of ATM buttons,

  • 40% of parking meters and kiosks,

  • 35% of crosswalk buttons, and

  • 35% of vending machine buttons.

With cold and flu season upon us, it is important to remember to wash your hands like you have OCD and be careful not to touch your face after touching public surfaces, or shaking hands.
Staying healthy by limiting contamination from hands is way up there on my lists of must do’s ALWAYS!
Call me a freak, after all..I am a Public Health Nurse! Here’s a list of things I consciously do to keep myself healthy.

Practice good hand washing! This is the oldest, most effective infection control practice around! No amount of technology can do what plan ol’ soap and water can do to protect you and your family from germs.

It is literally the action of the soap (a surfactant) helping to lift germs off the surface of your hands in the presence of friction and running water to carry away bioburden.

These factors in combination makes this practice extraordinarily effective!

Avoid eating out of communal bags!
Goodies like chips or crackers. Pouring servings out of bags is the best way to avoid contamination. I once worked at a hospital where 80% of the staff got sick with Norwalk Virus after a potluck. Norovirus is a family of highly contagious bugs that can give you fatal diarrhea! The worst part…Norwalk is transmitted from the feces of anyone infected! Yuck! I shutter to think any hospital employee is not using proper hand washing techniques, but we had the sick staff to prove it! I always avoid foods where the possibility of hand contamination exists. The CDC has great information about Norovirus prevention.

Avoid touching your face. 
One thing working around sick people in a place full of contamination, i.e., the hospital, is I have learned the importance of keeping my hands away from my face. The mouth, eyes and nose are perfect places to infect yourself with germs you’ve picked up in the environment! Way too rub it in!

Stay away from hand sanitizers unless you are desperate! 
There are plenty of folks out there pushing the virtues of hand sanitizers, but I have never been one of them! Hand sanitizer use plays a major role in the development of resistant organisms and have contributed to the spread of some really bad hospital bugs. If hands are covered with dirt and grime, sanitizers are completely useless as germs are simply moved into nice little balls of dirt. If you must use hand sanitizers, remember to wash your hands as soon as possible after sanitizing to remove residual bugs and dirt.

Use your wings! 
Remember to sneeze, cough, hack or wheeze in the crook of your elbow to reduce hand contamination. Like I say to the kids, who I am teaching to cover their cough or sneeze…”use your wing”!

The Wall Street Journal published a great article about the germiest public places a few years ago which is still relevant today This article by Healthy Living Plus has some great information about germs in the environment and ways to reduce your risk for contamination.

Remember…wash your hands!


All my close friends call me Nurse Courtney….


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