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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 14:04 EDT

The Filthiest Everyday Objects You Touch Daily

October 25, 2011

A study from Kimberly-Clark, manufacturer of consumer products that include Kleenex tissues, waterless hand sanitizers and antibacterial hand soap, has sent teams of hygienists to swab hundreds of surfaces around six US cities to find what everyday objects are breeding grounds for the worst bacteria and viruses, Alina Selyukh of Reuters is reporting.

The filthiest surfaces were found on gas pumps, public mailboxes, escalator rails and ATM buttons. Closely following were parking meters and kiosks, crosswalk buttons and buttons on vending machines in shopping malls.

Dr. Kelly Arehart, program leader of Kimberly-Clark´s Healthy Workplace Project explains, “It comes down to the fact that nobody cleans the things that you´re going to touch on a daily basis.”

The testing took place in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia, with about 350 samples taken with swabs that were then tested for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a naturally occurring chemical present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells, Computerworld´s Lucas Mearian reports.

Any trace of ATP indicated the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher would have a high risk for illness transmission, according to Kimberly-Clark.

“People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator,” Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, said in a statement.

“This new testing is compelling because it underscores the importance of hand and surface hygiene. Most cold and flu viruses are spread because people touch surfaces in their immediate area and then touch their faces, other objects and other people.”

Gerba recommends, very much like your mother most likely did, to wash and thoroughly drying your hands throughout the day to minimize the risk of getting sick or spreading illness.

“The likelihood for illnesses to transfer from the objects that people use every day like ATMs and parking meters is eye-opening,” said Brad Reynolds, marketing leaders of Kimberly-Clark´s Healthy Workplace Project. “

These findings indicate that illness-causing germs are everywhere and have the potential to travel with you into your office space. That´s why we developed the Healthy Workplace Project — a unique approach to hand and surface hygiene that helps employees understand and reduce the spread of cold and flu germs throughout their workplaces.”

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports