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Germ and Bacteria Hot-Spots: 12 Things You Should Know

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You're exposed to millions of germs and bacteria every day. What's harmful -- and what's just really gross? We investigated 12 germy claims to find out.

Germs: Dangerous or Not?

Startling reports about germs seem to spread faster than the little buggers themselves these days. Your desk is dirtier than a toilet bowl! Your bathroom is cleaner than your desk! But are the millions of germs we're exposed to daily dangerous -- or just disgusting?

"Most of the germs we encounter don't come from inanimate objects. Door handles, phones, money, and ATM machines are not a major source of illness," says Elaine Larson, PhD, a professor of pharmaceutical and therapeutic research at Columbia University School of Nursing. Avoiding infection is fairly easy. Basic hygiene (read: washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom) gets rid of most bacteria. Those who have to take greater precautions include the elderly and anyone with a suppressed immune system. Plus, you don't want to go overboard with the antigerm activity: There are lots of "good" bacteria out there that help keep the "bad" germs away. "The helpful microorganisms overwhelmingly outnumber the harmful ones," says Jack Brown, PhD, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. "Removing a large proportion of the good bacteria gives the bad germs a chance to increase and potentially become harmful."

So what do you need to worry about? We investigated the following 12 germy claims to find out what's true, what's false, and what you really need to do to stay clean and healthy.

Next:  Dirty Door Handles

 

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dolmontero wrote:

Don't forget the buffet restaurants where everybody touches the serving utensils before you do and then you get your stuff, go back to your table and start eating. Maybe you cleaned your hands before you got your stuff but don't assume everyone else did!!!!!!!!!!

11/20/2012 10:56:46 PM Report Abuse
germania1 wrote:

on the topic of dirty door handles, i again disagree! Someone with damp hands touching a door handle has 500% more probability of cross contamination! However, I have seen in the British press recently that there is a new hygienic door handle from a company called Pure Hold that actually cleans your hands - if these get rolled out in hospitals we will all be better of! Have a look for yourself http://www.purehold.co.uk/

12/31/2011 03:44:01 PM Report Abuse
germania1 wrote:

totally disagree with this - inanimate objects such as door handles, phones, money have been proven to transfer germs and viruses - there is a wealth of research on the web that proves this!

12/31/2011 03:35:22 PM Report Abuse
copayextra wrote:

is phone funk on the mouthpiece of a phone mean there is bacteria on it? same for the sweaty musty smell that comes from my washing machine?

4/13/2011 03:46:24 PM Report Abuse
copayextra wrote:

i am throwing out my cleaning sponges pronto. i have used these for several months. i just assumed the cleaning stuff i use was keeping them from harvesting bacteria.

4/13/2011 03:43:45 PM Report Abuse

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