Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Toilet Seats vs. Telephone Handsets

My wife works at a local hospital and she told me that they recently had an inservice about VRE spreading throughout their hospital.

She was told that, because these bugs can "live on toilet seats for weeks" they needed to be even more careful about sitting down. They were told that they should begin using paper to protect themselves.

Now my wife, like so many people*, has a superstition about sitting on public toilets; she believes they are unsafe. The last thing she needs is to have this myth validated by an "expert"!

Professor Charles Gerba has found that toilet seats are one of the cleanest places in the workplace. Beware, instead, of the bathroom sink, which is warm, moist, and frequently used after, um, "fecal contamination". Also, beware shared telephones.

I received an e-mail from a well-intentioned energy-saving program the other day that suggests we should all be doing our laundry in cold water to save energy. However, Gerba points out that laundry, especially underwear, should be washed at 60C to kill bacteria.

And I was right about another thing. The bus really is a "plague ship"...
Not surprisingly, the most contaminated environments were children's playgrounds and daycare centers. Following close behind were public buses, shopping carts, chair armrests, vending machine knobs, escalator handrails and public phones.

- Clorox website

* I think women are more likely than men to believe they need to create an "ass gasket" before sitting on the toilet, simply because they sit for all duties. Ironically, they've found the handles of toilets, especially urinals, to be the filth-covered problem areas!

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