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The Dirtiest Dozen

What's the dirtiest thing you touch in the course of a normal day? If you've been to a gas station, the pump handle would probably top the list of the filthiest surface you encountered. A new survey from Kimberly-Clark found that 71 percent of gas pump handles tested in six U.S. cities were contaminated with bacteria and viruses capable of making us sick. You may want to pull on disposable latex gloves the next time you reach for the pump handle. Others among the dirtiest surfaces found to be crawling with germs: the handles on public mailboxes, escalator railings, ATM buttons, parking meters and kiosks, crosswalk buttons and buttons on vending machines in shopping malls. And that's not all: at the office, your computer keys and mouse may not be as germ-laden as a gas pump handle, but if you don't clean them, it's likely nobody will. Other office hazards: door handles and elevator buttons. Moral of this story: wash your hands after you touch any of these surfaces.

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Reader Comments (6)

Interesting post, as usual. Thanks for the information. Here's my question, though: How much disinfecting is too much? I mean, aren't we strengthening our immune systems while our bodies try to fend off the effects of the bacteria we come into contact with daily? If I had to clean my hands everytime I use the handrail at the school where I work, I'd feel a bit obsessive. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary R. @ The Fit Optimist

Echoing Mary's excellent question. Up to what point should we let our immune system do what it's supposed to?

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus @ California Reiki

Restaurant Menus!! How many times a day are they passed around and rarely cleaned. They have something stuck to them all the time!

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterroniann

I would have thought the same is true about not needing anti-bacterial soaps, but now am grappling --during the past year I've had to be treated twice for h-pylori and once for pinworms! I have someone who helps "clean" my house (I office at home) and one day I noticed the toilet brush in with the cleaning supplies--EW-- I am thinking it contaminated everything? Don't want to be a germaphobe but not sure the best way to handle it now?

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRPB

I cringe when I think about how many microbes are living in the sponges around our sink. We clean our dishes and often our countertops with them! Another testament to the power of our immune system.
Dr. Julie Neal, ND

December 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Julie

On my laptop I have the little rubber key covers. Every once in a while I wash the cover with soapy water. Same with my cell phone, I keep antibacterial wipes in my car. I try and wipe off my phone and my steering wheel every so often. Another Pro- to having employees pumping your gas. They should make pump covers or have antibacterial spray near by. Yuck.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHorizon Pacific Vacations
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