LIFESTYLE

Your Hands Are Dirtier Than Public Surfaces, In Fact 25% Of You Have Faecal Fragments

16/09/2014 11:47 BST | Updated 16/09/2014 11:59 BST

We're feeling a sudden and overwhelming desire to wear surgical gloves for the rest of our lives. The reason? A study has revealed that our hands are actually dirtier than public surfaces, which is certainly not good news for our health.

hand hygiene

Did you know that faecal matter is present on 26% of hands in the UK?

In addition to that delightful piece of information, the average person carries over 10 million bacteria on their hands, in comparison to just 33,000 found on public surfaces. That's a staggering 30,203% more bacteria on your hands. *Shudders*

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In new research conducted by Aquaint, 25 swabs were taken from multiple high street and shopping centre locations, collected from surfaces including tables, public benches, escalator handrails, high chairs and children’s ride-on toys.

The samples were then laboratory tested for a range of harmful bacteria including staphylococcus, E.coli and enterobacteriaceae, which have all been linked to illnesses and deaths.

The overall quantity of bacteria measured in public spaces was actually relatively low – 33,000 in the worst example, from a wooden public bench. Whereas, the average person carries over 10 million bacteria on the hands alone.

Alongside this study, Aquaint polled members of the public on habits and attitudes to germs.

Unsurprisingly, 92% of those polled said they would avoid dirty looking tables and seats, citing health as the primary concern. By contrast, only 13% said they would avoid eating unless they had washed or cleansed their hands. URGH!

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Food Hygiene At Home

This indifference towards hand washing tallies with research by Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in 2012, which found that faecal matter is present on 26% of hands in the UK. By the way, faecal matter is rife with germs – around one billion per gram.

The UN estimates that hand washing alone could save more than a million lives a year from diarrhoeal diseases and prevent respiratory infections - so, why aren't we washing our hands more?

Bola Lafe, founder of Aquaint water-based sanitiser, says: “This study highlights the fact that people avoid what they believe will make them unwell when in fact public surfaces contain less harmful bacteria than we think.

"Our hands operate a highly effective public transport network for bacteria and viruses and germs can be easily transmitted. During the course of a day, we all touch hundreds of surfaces and mixed attitudes to hand washing may be at the root of the problem.

"Other people’s hand hygiene is totally out of our control so rather than just avoiding certain areas or surfaces, good hand hygiene for everyone should be the top priority.

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"Our hands are in frequent contact with our mouths or with items that we put into our mouths, making them the fastest route to illness."

Lafe added: “we strongly recommend that Brits look at their own hand hygiene habits and cleanse their hands regularly during the day; before and after eating, after using the toilet and when coming into contact with other hands, e.g. shaking hands.”

Got it? Now get washing!