While bacteria and germs have the ability to cause illness and disease, one of their most terrifying and dangerous qualities is their invisibility to the naked human eye. We often correlate certain areas or rooms that might collect more bacteria than others and put extra effort into cleanliness. However, this may not be as helpful as many people assume.
According to Medical Daily, a recent study was conducted inside a public restroom in an attempt to find out just how dirty these rooms are. It was found that regardless of the regular use of toilet seat covers and a focus on rigorous hand washing, bacteria still persevered.
The most common germs found on toilet bowls were gut bacteria. Unfortunately, our microbes can survive for hours after being expelled from the body. Some germs can even live on dry surfaces for several hours and moist surfaces, such as bathroom sinks, for up to three days, meaning that over time, a toilet and sink can collect large amounts of bacteria.
To make matters worse, people may not be safe even after they’re off the toilet. Even the flush handles ended up covered in soil bacteria due to people who think they are clever, flushing the toilet with their feet.
And just when you think you might be safe, the risk is still present after you’ve washed your hands. A standard warm air dryer can blow germs around a bathroom, while a jet dryer can even spray bacteria up to four and a half feet away.
The most unsettling finding in studying the average person’s toothbrush. Researchers discovered that more than 50% of toothbrushes contained live fecal bacteria. These germs were sprayed from toilet flushes across the room, all the way to the brushes.
While these findings are unnervingly close to home, another article from Fox News reported that the regular sanitary practices used by health and medical professionals may be doing more harm than good.
Authors wrote in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) about a study in which they used black lights and fluorescent lotions to reveal how much contamination takes place from the use of protective gear.
They recruited professionals from varying medical sectors, including doctors and nurses, at four different Cleveland hospitals. The participants put on their usual protective gear and rubbed a small amount of fluorescent lotion between their hands for 15 minutes and smeared the lotion across their abdomens.
What researchers found was that while removing protective gear after performing operations, they would end up contaminating their clothes and skin. Approximately 46% of participants substantially contaminated areas without protective gear.
“It was surprising for the participants in the study to see that they frequently contaminated themselves during (personal protective equipment) removal,” remarked senior author Dr. Curtis J. Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Even with the utmost “proper” use of the gear, it seemed unavoidable to contaminate themselves to some extent.
While not all sanitary practices may be as helpful as we believe, putting in effort to avoid as many germs as possible is still necessary to avoid the spread of many diseases.