Gas pump handles crawling with germs

ROSWELL, Ga., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Tests in six U.S. cities reveal gas pump and mailbox handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces Americans touch, officials of Kimberly-Clark Professional say.

Brad Reynolds of The Healthy Workplace Project, Kimberly-Clark Professional, said the testing was conducted by trained hygienists in high traffic locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia. Kimberly-Clark Professional markets hygiene services for office buildings and workplace and public areas.


Using a device used to monitor sanitary conditions in industry, hygienists swabbed several objects to measure levels of Adenosine Triphosphate, which is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination.

Objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission. In total, more than 350 separate swabs were taken and analyzed, Reynolds said.

The percentage of surfaces tested and found to have high levels of contamination -- an ATP count of 300 or higher -- included:

-- 71 percent of gas pump handles.

-- 68 percent of mailbox handles.

-- 43 percent of escalator rails.

-- 41 percent of ATM Buttons.


-- 40 percent of parking meters/kiosks.

-- 35 percent of crosswalk buttons.

-- 35 percent of vending machine buttons.

"The likelihood for illnesses to transfer from the objects that people use every day like ATMs and parking meters is eye-opening," Reynolds said in a statement.

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