Just in time for cold and flu season comes this icky news: A new survey has found that the germiest thing you touch is the gas pump handle, followed by the handle on public mailboxes, escalator rails and ATM buttons.
You can thank environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona -- affectionately known as Dr. Germ -- for these results, reported in USA Today.
All of these things, says Gerba, are touched by zillions of people every day and become "highly contaminated" with the kinds of germs that can make you sick.
Other germy things that the survey found included parking meters, crosswalk buttons and vending machines.
The study, funded by tissue maker Kimberly-Clark's Professional Healthy Work Place Project, had hygienists swabbing the suspected places and then analyzing the findings using the same methods that food and other industries use to monitor sanitary conditions.
(All of this made me think of other things lots of people touch daily -- the pen to sign credit card receipts at the grocery store, the elevator buttons, the touchscreen on the movie rental machine. It's enough to turn you into a germophobe.)
Obviously, Kimberly-Clark, which also just happens to make hand sanitizer, would like you to use a bunch of it on your hands to kill all those nasty germs.
The company's experts recommend that you wash your hands after getting to work -- or coming home after a trip to the ATM -- to avoid spreading germs to other people. You should also wipe down your work station with a cleaning wipe (guess what company makes those?) to get rid of germs on your computer keyboard, mouse, desktop and phone.
And, of course, keep some hand sanitizer in your car to use after filling your car's gas tank.
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