Americans achieved a “C-minus for their hand hygiene habits
There has never been a more important time to improve our hygiene.
Don’t you feel more and more people are sick these days?
We can’t blame bottle milk for producing a generation of sickly kids.
But why is it that so many people are sick these days?
When I was growing up our teachers really focused on classroom attendance.
So much so, that we had charts on our classroom walls showing how many sick days we were having.
It wasn’t that much, and perhaps our teachers had a good idea there…
By recording every student sick day, we all knew we were being tracked.
Which might well have helped us drag our sorry asses into school, even when we didn’t feel like it.
Or have we produced a generation of sickly kids?
Let’s look at some hygiene trends shaping our society…
The ‘Soap and Detergent Association’ recently issued a report on hand-hygiene…
The report asked a series of hygiene-related questions with almost 1,000 Americans during a telephone survey conducted by Echo Research.
According to the ‘Soap and Detergent Association’, Americans achieved a “C-minus for their hand hygiene habits.
Americans also scored a C-minus in the previous study, despite growing awareness and a drive to help more people understand the importance of sound hand hygiene practices.
Among the findings of the ‘Soap and Detergent Association’ survey:
- Only 85% say they always wash their hands after going to the bathroom (down from 92%);
- 46% say they wash their hands 15 seconds or less. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SDA recommends washing with soap at least 20 seconds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective hand-washing is a critical first line of defense against cross contamination.
And, the SDA touts hand-washing as the easiest path to being healthy.
“Cleaning your hands regularly throughout the day can help keep you out of your doctor’s office or the emergency room,” says Nancy Bock, SDA vice president of education.
While regular hand-washing throughout the day is recommended, the SDA notes the following situations where effective hand-washing is vital:
- Before preparing food
- After using the toilet (especially using toilet paper)
- When your hands are clearly dirty
- When you or someone around you is ill.
How can we encourage proper hand-washing?
“Studies have shown that high-quality soap and automated soap systems actually encourage people to wash their hands more frequently,” says Oscar Wientjes, Technical Concepts” global marketing director, sectors and channels.
“Restroom visitors can have a hygienic and positive experience if all systems work in harmony.
At the same time, facility owners and managers will reduce costs, improve image and, ultimately, increase value — a win-win for everyone.”
Because of the environment — particularly traffic volume and hazardous waste — restrooms can be safe havens for germs and bacteria to thrive and pose risks.
Several industry studies, measurements, and surveys emphasize the dangers involved in using public restrooms.
Until recently, few studies were ever based on microbial contamination in public restrooms.
One significant research paper was presented by Professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, Dr. Charles Gerba. He found data on public restroom contamination to show how frequently and easily specific high-contact washroom surfaces can be contaminated.
Using recent advances in microbiology, the research for the paper “focused on a bacterial sampling of public washrooms to enable us to develop an understanding of the washroom sites that pose the greatest risk of contamination to patrons and employees.”
According to the paper, “Even when the bathroom looks clean, it may not be so from the standpoint of microbial contamination.
In a recent study, we found, for example, that 15% of the toilet seats in restaurant bathrooms were contaminated with coliform bacteria.”
Gerba noted several washroom “hot zones” that end users should be aware of and address with specific cleaning protocols or antimicrobial products.
These hot zones include: The toilet, the floor surrounding it, the sink and counter, and high-touch objects such as handles.
Just think about it for a minute…
A person uses toilet paper, and all that bacteria comes through the sheets of toilet paper onto their fingers.
They then flush that toilet with the same hand…
They open the toilet door with that hand…
If they don’t wash their hands at all, which is often the case…
Then they spread those germs to the main toilet door handle to leave the bathroom…
Then they touch the handrail going down the stairs, or touch the lift buttons, or touch any other surface…
Which YOU might touch after them…
“Contaminants are also spread throughout the washroom via microbial aerosols ejected from the toilet bowl during flushing,” reported Gerba.
Prior to presenting this paper being presented by Dr.Gerba, the University of Arizona Microbiology Department conducted bacterial sampling of various restaurants.
Twenty-five sites were studied, certain surfaces were examined…
- 15% of sites had contaminated toilet paper dispensers
- 19%, contaminated toilet seats contaminated
- 62%, floor of stall contaminated
- 31%, hot water tap contaminated
- 15%, cold water tap contaminated
Recent studies, including those presented at this year’s ‘Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) Symposium’, validate Gerba”s findings of microbial contamination in public restrooms.
In other words, very little has changed in this area, despite better supplies, cleaning practices, and restroom designs.
Would the same be true of your bathroom?
“The Future of Bathroom Hygiene in the 21st Century”