Gas pump handles found to be filthiest surface people touch

People may think they touch some filthy surfaces such as public washroom toilets and ATMs, but the dirtiest thing people touch regularly is something every driver does regularly.

A new study by Kimberly-Clark Professional finds that gas pump handles contain the most germs.

"People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator," says Professor of Microbiology Dr. Charles Gerba in a statement.

Hygienists conducted the test by swabbing surfaces in high-traffic areas in six major U.S. cities and measuring levels of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). "Objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission," reads the statement.

People have a 71 per cent chance of picking up a dirty pump when filling up. Mailbox handles come in at 68 per cent, escalator railings at 43 per cent, ATM buttons at 41 per cent, parking metres at 40 per cent, crosswalk buttons and vending machines at 35 per cent.

As suggested by CTV, objects like gas pumps and mailboxes are so dirty probably because nobody ever cleans them. Good point. Have you ever seen anyone clean either of these?

This isn't the first time people have been warned about how dirty everyday objects can be. A study out of the U.K. in January found that ATMs and public toilets carry the same bacteria that can cause sickness and diarrhea.

"This new testing is compelling because it underscores the importance of hand and surface hygiene," says Gerba. "Most cold and flu viruses are spread because people touch surfaces in their immediate area and then touch their faces, other objects and other people. Washing and drying your hands frequently throughout the day, can help prevent your risk of getting sick or spreading illness around the office."

(Reuters photo)