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DALLAS (CBSNEWS.COM) – Maybe germaphobes are right. New research sponsored by Kimberly Clark – the Las Colinas-based company behind Kleenex tissues – confirms that many everyday objects are teeming with germs.
Researchers in six U.S. cities, including Dallas, swabbed dozens of “high-touch” surfaces including escalator rails, mailboxes, ATM buttons, and crosswalk buttons and ranked them according to how contaminated they were (using levels of a biological molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, as the indicator).
Many of the surfaces registered an ATP level above 300, which means illness transmission is likely, the company said in a written statement.
“People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things,” Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, said in the statement.
Here is the list of some of the dirtiest surfaces that Americans touch, in descending order.
7. Vending machine buttons (TIE)
How contaminated are vending machine buttons? Less contaminated than all the other objects tested but one. But they’re still teeming with germs – 35 percent had an ATP level of 300 or higher.
7. Crosswalk buttons (TIE)
Percentage of buttons showing high levels of contamination: 35
5. Parking meters/kiosks
Percentage of meters showing high levels of contamination: 40
4. ATM buttons
Percentage of buttons showing high levels of contamination: 41
3. Escalator rails
Percentage of rails showing high levels of contamination: 43
2. Mailbox handles
Percentage of mailbox handles showing high levels of contamination: 68
1. Gas pump handles
Don’t like to pump your own gas? You may have good reason. Roughly 7 out of 10 – 71 percent – of gas pump handles tested had ATP levels of 300 or higher.