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The revelation of toilet secrets

Many of us work in big companies and it is almost impossible to imagine our day at work without visiting a restroom. However it is not widely known that restrooms could be very dangerous for our health.

The paper toilet-seat cover can be a guardian angel for the backside, but only if the seat is dry to begin with. When the cover is placed onto a seat that's wet, it ferries bacteria and viruses from the toilet seat up to your bare skin.

The good news is that you're unlikely to contract a disease merely by sitting on a pathogen-covered toilet. Toilet paper

Neither viruses like influenza nor the bacteria responsible for illnesses such as strep throat are dangerous unless they come in contact with the mucus membranes - something easily prevented by washing dirty hands with soap before touching your mouth or eyes.

Most sexually transmitted diseases cannot survive once exposed to air (exceptions are the herpes virus, which can live for a few hours, and hepatitis B, which can linger for seven days). To catch a disease, the seated party would have to have some sort of break in the skin to allow the virus to enter. So if your bum is flawless and you don't mind the yuck factor, go ahead and take a seat.

Besides, the germs hiding on the throne aren't the ones you should be most worried about. The top sides of toilet seats are low in bacterial numbers compared with surfaces that you actually touch in a public restroom, like the faucet and countertop.

In a recent telephone survey, 91 percent of the subjects claimed they always washed their hands after using public restrooms. But, when researchers observed people leaving public restrooms, only 83 percent actually did so.

Only 75 percent of men washed their hands compared to 90 percent of women, the observations revealed.

The telephone survey also turned up several other results – some surprising, some not. While 83 percent said they washed their hands after using a home bathroom, 73 percent washed their hands after changing a diaper.

In contrast, low percentages of people wash their hands after petting a cat or dog (43 percent), after handling money (21 percent), after sneezing or coughing (32 percent).

"Only 24 percent of men and 39 percent of women say they always wash their hands after coughing or sneezing," said Brian Sansoni of the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA). "We have to do a better job here in stopping the spread of the germs that make us sick."

These results were released by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the SDA to highlight National Clean Hands Week, which runs from Sept. 18 through the 24.


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12/2008 02/2009


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