Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Stuff Contaminated with Germs!

Squads of people are culturing every inanimate object in sight. Here’s the latest from a microbiologist at the University of Arizona as published in USA Today. [There is no link to the actual study.] It seems the worst thing you can touch (this week) is a gas pump, with 71% of them contaminated with “germs most associated with a high risk of illness.” Next in line are corner mailboxes, ATM buttons, escalator rails, parking meters, crosswalk buttons and vending machines.

An expert, Ashley Templin, 26, a hair stylist at the Ezelli Salon in Detroit, was quoted. She said that the thought of germs is such a problem for her that she doesn’t “use public rest rooms.” She does not say what she does when she has to urinate. Perhaps she never drinks beer or like many women, she holds it forever.

I have blogged before about the burgeoning culture of culturing everything. I continue to point out that no one has linked outbreaks of disease to gas pump handles, neckties, cell phones or the myriad other inanimate objects that are being cultured left and right. If this were truly a huge problem, we would all be continuously incapacitated by infectious diseases.

The article recommends handwashing, which of course is good advice.

What should we culture next? I suggest elevator buttons, movie theater seats, newsstands, car door handles, petting zoos and sewage treatment plants. Can you think of other things to culture?


Tom said...

Good ones. I'd add:
Computer mouses (mice?) at public libraries
Shopping cart handles
Magazines in doctors' waiting rooms

Wolfard said...

bar stools, yoga mats, Zuccotti Park

Anonymous said...

Subway hand rails, Ping Pong balls used for drinking games, cold hard cash, quarters (I bet pennies are the most dirty), the pedestrian buttons at stop lights, the touch screen TV's in NYC cabs.

It would be interested to see if things no one touches also had germs, like sliding doors that open automatically.

Kevin B. O'Reilly said...


Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks for the comments. Good ideas. Money has been studied with somewhat mixed results (,,

Anonymous said...

My mother-in-law says that by flushing the toilet the whole house is contaminated by bacteria. My 10 yo son will not flush it anymore ........

Skeptical Scalpel said...


That's a great story. I wonder what your mother-in-law's rationale is?

Michael McGonigal said...

There was an amusing abstract at the Surgical Infection Society this year about how contaminated those sanitizing foam dispensers in hospitals are!


Skeptical Scalpel said...


I love it. People from Johns Hopkins recently showed that sinks with infrared-activated faucets are more contaminated than regular sinks. It seems there are more valves and things in the fancy sinks.

Squick said...

I'd like to see them culture the people taking cultures.

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