How many times when you were a kid did your mother tell you to wash your hands before sitting down to a meal? Now think about how many of those times you ran the water and pretended to scrub those hands. For all of us, considering this latest information, it is probably a miracle that the bacteria on our hands didn’t kill us before we reached the age of puberty. Read on and be amazed.
According to a new study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute, approximately 77% of us always clean our hands before handling or eating food (83% of women vs. 71% of men). Since the onset of these studies back in 1996, it has been observed that 85% of adults washed their hands in public restrooms, a figure which is up from 77% in 2007.
One could conclude from existing data that most of us are washing our hands, but the war against bacteria is never ending and we still have a very long way to go if the goal is to annihilate the ever-lurking, unseen enemy.
In the words of Charles Gerba, professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Arizona:
“The bulk of germs are hiding where you least suspect—playground equipment, the phone receiver, ATMs and elevator buttons.”
The Mayo Clinic advises that washing hands frequently is the most effective way of eliminating the spread of germs. Germs are everywhere; shopping cart handles, doorknobs, telephones, elevator buttons and keyboards. Community spirit is all fine and good, but not when it comes to sharing bacteria.
Just to offer a certain perspective on this distressing subject, consider that the average person has more bacteria on his or her body than there are people living in the United States! If that’s not enough to grab your attention, it is estimated that 229,000 germs per square inch live on frequently-used faucet handles and 21,000 per square inch thrive on the average work desk
It is more important to wash your hands in some instances than in others. These include but are not limited to: after using the bathroom, when you are sick or helping someone else who is sick, after blowing your nose or coughing on your hand, after cleaning out a litter box or a taking out the garbage. Taking the preventive measure of washing hands in these situations will help limit the spread of germs.
So what are you waiting for?
Go and wash your hands!
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