Dirty Hands

JONESBORO (KAIT)--Germs are everywhere and impossible not to pick up, and without proper hand washing, you could be carrying around who-knows-what. That got me to thinking:  What about your typical day around the workplace? What are you touching and taking with you?

I started the day by thoroughly washing my hands, then went about my work day without washing them again.  I discovered that I touch plenty of dirty things during my 8 hours on the job. At the end of the morning I went to ASU's Biology department to talk with Dr. David Gilmore.  Dr. Gilmore, also known as the "Germ Guy," swabbed my right hand in three specific areas and loaded the samples onto petri dishes.  He then placed the dishes in an incubator at 37 degrees celsius for 48 hours.

What he found was a bit surprising.  "I found about 250 bacteria on an area about the size of a postage stamp," said Dr. Gilmore.  "Most bacteria we pick up during the day won't harm us, but without further testing it's hard to say if any of these are bad bacteria.  I did notice some of them looked suspicious and decided to do a futher test that revealed StaphAureus.  The good news is it's not the dreaded MRSA form of staph, but the bad news is, it's anitbiotic resistant.  Penicillin and arythromyicin won't touch this thing."

Dr. Gilmore said this is proof of the importance of good hand washing.  "Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands," said Gilmore.  "The best offense is a good defense."

With that, let's take a look at the centers for disease control hand washing guidelines.

  • First, always use warm, running water and a mild, perferably liquid soap.
  • Rub your hands together vigorously until the soap lathers and continue rubbing for at least 20 seconds.  They suggest singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.
  • Rinse your hands, then use a disposable or single use towel and completely dry your hands.
  • Use that same towel to turn off the faucet, remember your dirty hands just turned it on.