Download Video (21 MB)
No one likes to use a public restroom, but millions of Americans use them everyday. Now a new study suggests that germophobes aren’t the only people who should be careful when using a public lavatory. University of Florida researchers tested bathrooms in airplanes, restaurants, hospitals, and other busy locations for disease-causing germs. Researchers swabbed areas most people touch after hand washing like faucets, paper-dispenser levers and door handles. They discovered the surfaces are often heavily contaminated with illness causing germs. Health experts say these areas that most people touch in public restrooms after hand washing can lead to infectious disease transmission.
Dr. Lennox Archibald/UF epidemiologist: “Basically, you are recontaminating your hands. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person is going to get ill, but it is just an issue of transmission. The whole idea of all of this is to prevent transmission.”
In some cases, the microbes detected in these high-touch areas of a restroom were too large to measure. Health experts say hand washing can prevent most people from getting sick, but researchers say if you have to use a public restroom, avoid touching any surfaces after washing your hands.
Dr. Lennox Archibald/UF epidemiologist: “Individuals need to be scrupulous when they wash their hands and they need to be careful after when they dry their hands.”
Researchers suggest using electric hand dryers in public restroom when possible.