The Grim Reality of Germs in Public Spaces
Germs are everywhere. That’s just the reality of life. But the scary reality is, public spaces are like a petri dish, and without proper cleaning and sanitizing, they can be a breeding ground for all sorts of scary things. That’s because germs can multiply more than 8 million times in a single day.
From offices to schools, stores to condos, here are some of the scariest realities of public spaces and their cleanliness.
1 | Handrail Hazards
Escalator and stair handrails are full of germs. People cough and sneeze on their hand and then touch handrails. Test results have shown E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood found on handrails. It’s best not to touch these handrails or to wash up after touching one.
2 | The Fountain of Youth
Drinking fountains are some of the germiest places on school grounds. In fact, drinking fountains can have 800 times as many germs as school toilet seats! Yuck! Lunch trays, faucets, and computer keyboards are also perpetrators of spreading germs quickly. Bring your reusable water bottle and hand sanitizer with you!
3 | Restroom Refresh
Every time a toilet is flushed in a public restroom, a spray of bacteria-filled droplets flies out into the air. Scientists call this phenomenon “toilet perfume.” Where do those germs go? The toilet seats, faucets, and soap dispensers are a few places. Wall-mounted hand dryers are another place germs land; these spread the germs right onto your freshly-washed hands with a blast of air. According to the CDC, only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using the restroom, so think twice before reaching for the door handle without a paper towel.
4 | What’s on the Menu?
Some menus that were tested were found to have more than 100 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet seat. Even though tons of people touch them and they are in a place where we eat food no less, they are only wiped down once a day and often with a dirty rag. It’s recommended that you wash your hands after you order, rather than before you sit down and to never lay your menu on top of your silverware.
5 | How High Can You Go?
If you get the heebie-jeebies from touching a door handle, be wary of elevator buttons too. Research carried out in hotels, banks, offices, airports, and restaurants showed the average elevator button had around 313 colony forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per square centimeter, compared to 8 CFUs on the average public toilet seat–yikes! Even scarier, the common bacteria found here included E. coli and methicillin-resistant MRSA. Try pushing the buttons with your elbow instead.
6 | More Toxic than Office Gossip
There’s lots of talk about how there are more germs on an office desk than on a toilet seat in that same office. But you should also be wary of office coffee mugs! According to microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, about 20% of office coffee mugs were found to be tainted with fecal bacteria. So, maybe start using your own dedicated mug and wash it well after each use.
7 | The Big Bucks
According to the National Institutes of Health, paper and coin money carry tons of germs, particularly those in hospitals and restaurants. Researchers have also found E. coli and flu viruses on ATM keypads. The biggest offender on a keypad is the “Enter” button, since it’s unavoidable. When using an ATM, push buttons with your knuckles as it is rarer that you touch your face with your knuckles, or clean up with a bit of hand sanitizer afterward.
How to Really Protect Yourself, Your Employees, and Your Guests
Scared after reading about some of the germiest public spaces? We get it! While it is important that we all practice proper hand washing hygiene, what is more important is proper and routine cleaning and disinfecting of your public spaces!
AK Building Services is experienced, well-trained, and certified in proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols, including HAZCOM certified. We have an extensive portfolio and truly care for our clients’ facilities and the health and safety of our community. Talk to us today about how we can help keep your public spaces cleaner and healthier for everyone!