I was at a meeting last summer and ran into one of my students flush with victory at having caught up with one of the Greats, a verifiable National Academy of Sciences, Pulitizer Prize Winner, gold-standard biologist. After describing the discussion, pretty much verbatim he paused, noting that “Dr. XXXX shook my hand, then immediately cleaned his with a sanitary wipe.”
I told him not to take it personally.
A paper by Kelly Reynolds and colleagues suggests why a modicum of Bacillophobia may help get you through this flu season relatively unscathed. They assayed places you, and everybody else, are likely to place your hands while in public. They noted the presence of alpha-amylase (as an indicator of mucus, saliva, sweat and urine), hemoglobin (blood) and urea (‘nuf said). Their findings? I highly recommend that you don’t take the bus to the playground, stopping in the restroom before going to get groceries.
Here, via BestLife magazine, is the top 10 ickiest surfaces, ranked by the percentage which tested positive for one of the big three precious bodily fluids.
44% Playground equipment
35% Bus armrests and rails
25% Public restroom surfaces (buses are dirtier than restrooms!)
21% shopping cart handles
21% chair armrests
19% escalator handrails (climbing up the Eiffel tower)
16% customer-shared pens
14% vending machine buttons
13% public phones
10% elevator buttons