Microbial Biogeography of Public Restroom Surfaces
Newly released research shows what many have long suspected -- bacteria are plentiful in public
restrooms. Using a high-tech genetic sequencing tool, researchers
identified 19 groups of bacteria on the doors, floors, faucet handles,
soap dispensers and toilets of 12 public restrooms in Colorado -- six
men's restrooms and six women's restrooms.
Many of the bacteria strains identified could be transmitted by touching
contaminated surfaces. For example, toilet surfaces were found to have
bacteria that are commonly associated with feces.
Skin-associated bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus were found on
faucets and other fixtures. And floor surfaces -- which had the most
diverse strains of bacteria -- were contaminated with a lot of bacteria
found in soil.
The findings are reported by a group of scientists and appear on PLoS ONE.
Researcher Gilberto Flores, PhD of the University of Colorado in
Boulder was not surprised by the results, saying that most of these
bacteria are not harmful. "As long as you wash your hands with soap and
water, you will be fine."
Some people may take it a step further, Flores says. "We found
dirt-associated bacteria on the toilet handle in one stall, which
indicates that people use their foot to flush the toilet."
to read the full report.