By Edeline Anne Goh
I recently had a bitter experience when I dined at one of the popular food centers in KL. Known for its good food, there is never a day that this place does not welcome a crowd of people anxiously waiting at tables and queuing up for food. However, when I finally decided to drop by, I was shocked and quite disgusted with what I noticed. The eating utensils had food stains on them and trying to get hold of a clean fork and spoon was like searching for a needle in a hay stack!
This got me thinking: How much dirt are we exposed to everyday without our knowledge? Urban Health gets down and dirty to bring you some of the ten dirtiest objects you touch everyday.
WARNING: This article may send chills down your spine!
Did you know that the number of germs found on money can be up to six times more than on a public toilet seat? If you think nothing of touching your mouth with money notes or holding coins between your teeth, you should stop this habit immediately!
Paper currency and coins contain some of the highest amounts of bacteria and are often crawling with contagious bacteria such as E-Coli, which causes severe diarrhea that can sometimes lead to death. So, practice good hygiene habits when handling money such as cleaning your hands with antibacterial wipes to reduce the risk of contamination.
How often do you clean your computer keyboard? Do you think about doing it only when the keys start to feel sticky or oily?
Keep in mind that germs and all kinds of contaminants love computer keyboards! Think about it – if you happen to sneeze or cough in front of the computer, the keyboard is where the germs and bacteria end up since it is directly right in front of you.
Make it a habit to wipe down your keyboard with a suitable cleaning solution before using your computer everyday. It’s a great way to start your day germ free rather than typing on a germ infested keyboard all day long!
It is no surprise that almost all forms of bacteria can be found on toilet seats especially when it comes to public toilets. The good news is most of the germs on toilet seats only have a short life span. That’s why (surprisingly enough) toilet seats are not the most common vehicle to transmit germs. While some pretty serious bacteria, such as staphylococcus, E.Coli or sexually transmitted organisms such as gonorrhea, can be found on a toilet seat these germs are only a threat to you if there is a cut on your skin or they end up transmitted through the urethral or genital area.
This means it is possible to keep yourself safe if you practice toilet hygiene habits, such as using a toilet seat cover before sitting down on public toilets or wiping down the seat with an antibacterial wipe. Having a strong, healthy immune system is also a big help.
A study conducted by Kimberly-Clarke professional as reported in USA Today on October 2011 has found that petrol pumps are one of the filthiest spots you can touch. The results of the research have found that 71% of petrol pumps tested were highly contaminated.
You might want to consider wearing gloves the next time your petrol tank runs out of petrol, but there are simpler options available as well. For instance, have a hand sanitiser in your car or wet wipes to sanitize your hands before you place them on the steering wheel.
Urgent business calls cannot be missed therefore many people take their phones into the toilet when nature calls. Others use their mobile phone to entertain themselves with games or other fun applications while in the toilet.
This means your mobile phone is exposed to all sorts of toilet germs and may even be contaminated with fecal matter! As reported in TIME magazine, the results of a 2011 study conducted by researchers in London showed that one in six mobile phones contain fecal matter.
You might want to reconsider leaving your phone behind the next time you enter the toilet. You certainly do not want fecal matter on the phone when you place it against your ear!
SALT & PEPPER SHAKERS
Although salt and pepper shakers are used almost every day, these little bottles often do not have covers to protect them and are not washed as often as they should be. Leaving these bottles in the open all day long exposes them to dirt, flies and even roaches.
The next time you decide to enhance the taste of your meal with salt and pepper, be sure to examine the shakers first. An alternative, would be to use only individually wrapped salt and pepper packs.
Hand dryers seem harmless enough when it comes to germs and bacteria but do you know most hand dryers feature a netting-like filter that traps all sorts of contaminants? These germs and bacteria are then blown directly onto your hands.
The results of a study by Redway and Fawdar from the University of Westminster in 2008 has shown an increase in bacteria count of 117% on the palms of study participants who used a hand dryer. A cleaner option would be to dry your hands on a paper towel or tissue.
We hate to burst your bubble but shopping carts may have more germs on them than public toilets! Think about it, these carts are rarely cleaned and are handled by thousands of people who may have touched bacteria-covered objects before heading to the supermarket.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found bacteria, saliva and fecal matter on shopping cart handles. So next time you’re at the supermarket, you might want to think about using those antibacterial wipes to perform a quick cleanup!
Also known as kitchen sponges, these damp and moist squares are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Often used until they are worn out (that is they’re unable to absorb moisture and are stained), kitchen sponges are best allocated according to specific use. For instance, a sponge for dish washing and another for cleaning meat chopping boards.
Fortunately, it’s easy to disinfect kitchen sponges. Just microwave them for 30 seconds once a week and you’re done. You should also look out for stains and signs that indicate that it’s time to replace the sponge.
While dining out is convenient, it is important to be aware of the hygiene standards at your favourite eating spots. If poor hygiene is practiced, diseases such as salmonella, meningococcal meningitis and hepatitis B can spread like wild fire.
Clean dishes, eating utensils as well as a spotless kitchen are essential for your health.
Therefore, before digging into that scrumptious meal in front of you, be sure to check the cutlery and other surfaces at the restaurant such as the floor and your tabletop. If stains or dirt spots are visible, demand a new set of cutlery or move to another table. Better yet ¾ leave the restaurant and find a cleaner place to eat!