Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We know that germs are everywhere, and they’re not all bad. But when most people think of places coated with germs in public, they maybe think of door handles or bathrooms.
When Kimberly-Clark went testing public places for high levels of contamination, officials said they found contamination everywhere they looked.
Kimberly-Clark Project Leader Brad Reynolds said to bear in mind that the company sells sanitizing projects.
But when they sent trained hygienists to high-traffic public locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia, they used a Hygiena SystemSURE II ATP Meter, a device commonly used to monitor sanitary conditions in industry, and swabbed objects to measure levels of Adenosine Triphosphate.
ATP is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission.
They found the most germ-filled spot to be the gas pump handle, with 71 percent of their pumps swabbed at levels higher than 300.
“Items where you apply pressure to the surface seem to pick up a lot of contamination from peoples’ hands,” said Reynolds.
The second danger spot: Special delivery, it’s the mailbox handle as 68 percent were super germy.
“Ah. Maybe when the post office goes obsolete we won’t have to worry about that,” laughed a Minneapolis man who just dropped off his mail.
Next was the escalator as 43 percent of escalator rails tested at high levels. Forty one percent of ATM machine buttons, 40 percent of parking meters and 35 percent of crosswalk buttons tested over the safe limit for germs.
“You take those germs and carry them into work. The first thing we do is check e-mail. You’ve just deposited those germs onto your keyboard, which in our testing is the single dirtiest item in every office,” said Reynolds.
“It is up to 400 times dirtier than the average toilet bowl,” he said.
Reynolds suggested washing your hands when you first arrive to work, and then keeping your desk clean by wiping your keyboard and telephone.
“You want to wipe the slate clean several times a day,” he said.