We have a poster that says this above our handwashing basin in our laboratory and it’s true!
The United Nations states that “washing hands is the most cost-effective intervention for the worldwide control of disease” and yet studies have shown that up to 50% of people do NOT wash their hands after using the toilet. Here are some interesting facts and figures based on basic hygiene:
* Between 2 and 10 million bacteria colonise our bodies between the fingertip and the elbow. The fingertip bacterial load doubles after using the toilet.
* Touchscreen devices such as mobile phones, keyboards and tablets harbour 18 times more bacteria than toilet flush handles. Not to mention the number of people that actually use their mobile phones while on the loo – YUCK!
* The bottoms of handbags are known for being covered in bacteria including faecal coliforms especially if they are placed on toilet floors whilst using public facilities – a lot of these handbags are then placed or stored on kitchen worktops – hang your bag where possible.
* 80% of communicable diseases are transmitted by touch. Touch referring to the touching of food as well as ones own mouth, eyes, ears etc. – not simply person to person contact.
* Critical hand washing times are before food preparation and before and after using the toilet. Only 20% of people wash their hands before preparing food.
* Flushing the toilet with the lid up spreads a fine bacterial mist over an area of 6 square metres – see guys, it pays to always leave the seat down then it is easier to close the lid.
So it is very much “back to basics” with this topic but important to remember on a daily basis especially as the cold and flu season is just around the corner and washing hands has been shown to reduce the rate of sick days by more than 20% not to mention we are still in the thick of BBQ season and I am sure hand washing reduces the rates of those gastro organisms also.